Earthlings is the second book I read after Convenience Store Women by Sayaka Murata. After reading Convenience Store Women, I attended a Japanese Literature event to listen to the author among many others. As she wrote such a book, I was excited about what kind of author I would see.
However, I was shocked when the author emphasized that everything she describes in Convenience Store Women is just a fiction and has no other underlying meaning. Because the Convenience Store Women and her new book Earthlings describe life in Japan, especially the hardship women have to endure. But if you tell that to the author, she’ll probably say no. Therefore, you are left with a nonsense story. Sometimes I wish to read the books and never meet the author. I thought I could read Earthlings as an excellent critique of society, but I can’t because I can’t forget what the author said.
Nevertheless, Earthlings is an extraordinary story. Even though I wouldn’t say I liked it as much as the Convenience Store Women, I couldn’t let it go. I read each new page faster, as the book got weirder and weirder. As I approach the end, I keep asking myself “What am I reading?”. If you want to read an extraordinary book, I think you might like it. But let me state right away; This book includes sexual harassment, incest, cannibalism, social isolation that is increasingly common in Japan, and much more. Please make your reading decision in line with this information. Enjoy!
Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. As youths, she and her cousin Yuu spent the summers in the wild Nagano mountains, hoping for a spaceship to transport her home. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the cousins forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.
Now, Natsuki is grown. She lives quietly in an asexual marriage, pretending to be normal, and hiding the horrors of her childhood from her family and friends. But dark shadows from Natsuki’s past are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains, Natsuki prepares for a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it? Dark, sharp and with a deeply unexpected twist, Earthlings is an exhilarating cosmic flight that will leave you reeling.
Sayaka Murata is a Japanese writer. She has won the Gunzo Prize for New Writers, the Mishima Yukio Prize, the Noma Literary New Face Prize, and the Akutagawa Prize.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: