Breasts and Eggs
Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett, David Boyd
A New York Times ‘Notable Book of 2020’
One of Elena Ferrante’s ‘Top 40 Books by Female Authors’
‘A sharply observed and heartbreaking portrait of what it means to be a woman, in Japan and beyond’ -Time, ‘The 100 Must-Read Books of 2020’
‘Breathtaking’ – Haruki Murakami, author of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
On a hot summer’s day in a poor suburb of Tokyo we meet three women: thirty-year-old Natsuko, her older sister Makiko, and Makiko’s teenage daughter Midoriko. Makiko, an ageing hostess despairing the loss of her looks, has travelled to Tokyo in search of breast enhancement surgery. She’s accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently stopped speaking, finding herself unable to deal with her own changing body and her mother’s self-obsession. Her silence dominates Natsuko’s rundown apartment, providing a catalyst for each woman to grapple with their own anxieties and their relationships with one another.
Eight years later, we meet Natsuko again. She is now a writer and find herself on a journey back to her native city, returning to memories of that summer and her family’s past as she faces her own uncertain future.
In Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami paints a radical and intimate portrait of contemporary working class womanhood in Japan, recounting the heartbreaking journeys of three women in a society where the odds are stacked against them. This is an unforgettable full length English language debut from a major new international talent.
‘Bold, modern and surprising’ – An Yu, author of Braised Pork
‘Incredible and propulsive’ – Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times
The novel details the lives of three women: the 30-year-old unmarried narrator, her older sister Makiko, who’s obsessed with getting breast implants and her daughter, Midoriko. With humour and compassion, Kawakami explores female oppression in Japan, reproduction rights and motherhood. * Now Magazine * So finely crafted, every few lines could be a haiku, and you almost forget how difficult it must have been to create something so perfectly simple. And when you notice the clarity, meditativeness, eccentricity, quirk and wit in her writing, you immediately understand how Murakami could be inspired by a writer like this. — Praise for Ms Ice Cream Sandwich * Ladies Finger * Kawakami is emerging as one of Japan’s most prominent young literary voices, with thoughtfulness and eccentricity at the heart of her prose. * Culture Trip * One of Japan’s brightest stars is set to explode across the global skies of literature . . . Kawakami is both a writer’s writer and an entertainer, a thinker and constantly evolving stylist who manages to be highly readable and immensely popular. * Japan Times * Breasts and Eggs unwraps with great care the puzzle of being alive today, inviting us to challenge how we think and deepen how we feel. Mieko Kawakami is a writer of rare candour and brilliance. — Ronan Hession, author of Leonard and Hungry Paul Already a literary sensation . . . Kawakami writes with unsettling precision about the body – its discomforts, its appetites, its smells and secretions. And she is especially good at capturing its longings, those in this novel being at once obsessive and inchoate, and in one way or another about transformation . . . she regularly drops phrases that made me giddy with pleasure. — Katie Kitamura * New York Times * Breasts and Eggs is incredible and propulsive: deadpan on modern femininity, tilting between intimate relationships and sweeping views of Tokyo and Osaka, and abundantly peopled with characters who have lots to say. One to get lost in. — Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times Breasts and Eggs will appeal to readers who delight in finding the female intellect prioritized on the page; if you like Sheila Heti, you’ll love Mieko Kawakami. * NPR * I can never forget the sense of pure astonishment I felt when I first read Mieko Kawakami’s novella Breasts and Eggs . . . breathtaking . . . Mieko Kawakami is always ceaselessly growing and evolving. Perhaps someday she will return to the nearly perfect, natural primal world of Breasts and Eggs. — Haruki Murakami, author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles Kawakami’s prose is bold, modern, and surprising. Breasts and Eggs is a moving story about womanhood and modern life told through the lens of a supremely confident writer. — An Yu, author of Braised Pork As if traced before our eyes, objects close at hand are rendered with uncommon precision. An incredible display of nonchalance backed by careful diction. — Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police Mieko Kawakami lobbed a literary grenade into the fusty, male-dominated world of Japanese fiction with ‘Chichi to Ran'(‘Breasts and Eggs’) * Economist *
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