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Goddess Chronicle, The [Hardcover]

Natsuo Kirino

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Book Description

Feb. 26 2013 Myths (Book 10)
In a place like no other, on an island in the shape of a tear drop, two sisters are born into a family of the oracle. Kamikuu, with creamy skin and almond eyes, is admired far and wide; Namima, small but headstrong, learns to live in her sister's shadow. On her sixth birthday, Kamikuu is presented with a feast of sea-serpent egg soup, sashimi and salted fish, and a string of pure pearls. Kamikuu has been chosen as the next Oracle, while Namima is shocked to discover she must serve the goddess of darkness. So begins an adventure that will take Namima from her first experience of love to the darkness of the underworld. But what happens when she returns to the island for revenge? Natsuo Kirino, the queen of Japanese crime fiction, turns her hand to an exquisitely dark tale based on the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanagi. A fantastical, fabulous tour-de-force, it is a tale as old as the earth about ferocious love and bitter revenge.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1 pages
  • Publisher: CANONGATE; Main edition (Feb. 26 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673015
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #469,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

* Daring and disturbing ... [Kirino is] prepared to push the human limits of this world ... Remarkable Los Angeles Times * It is one of the most unexpected and playful novels to emerge from Japan in recent years ... a triumph. In its boldness and originality, it broadens our sense of what modern Japanese fiction can be -- (for Real World) Telegraph * Be prepared for a book utterly unlike anything we are used to in crime fiction -- (for Real World) Independent * Got my heart beating -- (for Out) Rose Tremain Daily Telegraph * In her wildly far-reaching tale of relations between gods and men, men and women, life and death, darkness and light, Natsuo Kirino tells a peripatetic, global, and truly satisfying love story of how it is to be human Stella Duffy * Kirino's retelling is a taut, disturbing and timeless tale, filled with rage and pathos for the battles that women have to fight every day, battles which have, apparently, existed from the moment of creation -- Tan Twan Eng the Guardian 20130227 * I have to say I had a wonderful experience reading this novel because not only Natsuo Kirino has once again captured my attention through her great writing skill and her most unforgettable plot, but what most made this book such a satisfying read is the thought-provoking message behind the story. I couldn't put my feelings into words; this is one novel that you need to read it to experience it Melody's Reading Corner * What an enjoyable tale I found this to be, involving: love, loss, betrayal, hatred and revenge with great storytelling qualities, memorable characters an epic and mythical read ... A tale that will have you captivated and fully intertwined, a love story that will remain in your mind and felt in your heart for many cycles of the Sun More2Read * [Izanami and Izanagi's] story provides a point of comparison and contrast with Namima's ... All is wrapped up in clean prose that gives this engaging novel a mythic feel of its very own Follow the Tread * The Goddess Chronicle dissects the myths of female helplessness, power and vindictiveness with simplicity and empathy. And like all myths that transcend boundaries, it will resonate with women of every culture -- Ong Sor Fern The Straits Times

About the Author

Natuso Kirino is a leading figure in the recent boom of female writers of Japanese hard-boiled crime fiction. A prolific writer, she is most famous for her 1998 novel, Out, which received the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction, Japan's top mystery award and was a finalist (in translation) for the 2004 Edgar Award. So far, four of her novels have been translated into English: Out, Grotesque, Real World and What Remains. Rebecca Copeland is a professor of Japanese literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where her research and teaching focuses on women, gender, and translation studies. A fan of Natsuo Kirino's work, she also translated her 2003 novel Grotesque

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Loved the idea and very much wanted to like the book Nov. 26 2013
By bmbower - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The first part of this book is strange and beautiful and claustrophobic. Our narrator details a cruel and ritual-bound life on an isolated island, where girls get blessed or cursed to be servants of gods and the island chief stuffs old people into huts to die when the island becomes overpopulated. Our hero has her sister, then her mother, taken from her as part of the rituals. Even worse, she is forced to hang around corpses, never to speak to other islanders again. Little wonder she breaks the rules, has an affair, and flees the island with her lover.

But then the story digresses into a repetitive and dull view of suffering and dying. Our narrator dies for her man when he murders her. Her goddess "dies" for her man. Her sister kills herself for her man. The goddess of the underworld kills women who slept with her god husband, so they essentially die for their man. While the descriptions of the pillared halls and flickering spirits of the underworld are wonderfully weird, the protagonist's acceptance and indulgence in her own suffering comes off as unneeded histrionics.

I do believe some people are forever scarred by their pain, and it ends up defining them. But this story was such a romanticized version of that suffering and indulgence that it started to feel like farce. It reminded me simultaneously of the scene in Funny Girl when Fanny Brice plops her head onto the table to express suffering (in a great comical moment), the Soup Nazi's face in Seinfeld when Kramer reminds him how he suffers for his soup, and the "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me" group from Hee Haw, something I doubt the author or translator intended.

There are also other issues. The way island life is described sometimes makes the community seem like it should hold several thousand rather than a couple of hundred inhabitants. (This could be a translation issue.) The theogony of the Japanese gods included so many names and so much telling (rather than showing) I had a hard time keeping up and never really cared. And as I already mentioned, there was a lot of repeating of how much various people were suffering.

Basically I am left with the impression of someone throwing their arm over their face and wailing "woe is me." I'd suggest using the library to read the first part, skip the gods, then read the chapter "With All I Do in This World," where our heroine returns to the land of the living as a wasp to solve the mystery of her own murder. But skip the rest.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japanese creation myth as feminist tale Nov. 7 2013
By Laurie A. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sisters Kamikuu and Namima are inseparable as little girls, so it’s a shock when one day they are forcibly separated. Kamikuu, the older sister, stands for light and will be trained to be the isolated island’s new Oracle, separated from the rest of the tribe, her only contact with Namima being a few words when Namima delivers her basket of food for the day. One day, the teen Namima is informed that she will be the servant of darkness and guard the cave where the dead are stored, as is ever the fate of the sister of the Oracle. This, she thinks, is the worst fate possible. Little does she know that worse awaits when her lover betrays her.

Namima narrates this story, which interweaves with the story of Izanami, the Goddess of the Underworld, who likewise had a faithless lover, Izanaki. Readers who know Japanese mythology will recognize those names; this book is one of the ‘Myths’ series put out by Canongate wherein famous writers retell the old stories. Izanami and Izanaki are part of an ancient creation myth as the parents of the islands of Japan. When Izanami died, Izanaki trapped her in the underworld and went about impregnating mortal women, who Izanami then killed. The moral of The Goddess Chronicle seems to be that males, whether they be god or mortal, are tricky beings only after one thing and women are destined to die because of them.

The book is somewhat dry but well written. My problem with it is that it seemed a bit simplistic: women die because of men. I can see that being true in the age when the myth arose; childbirth was dangerous and frequent; men ruled and took what they wanted. But to make that the point of a book today seems dated; it’s like a feminist book from the 1970s where the women were all good and the men all bad (and if a woman was bad, it was because a man caused them to be). Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and found myself caught up in Namima’s story, rooting for something bad to happen to her erstwhile lover.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Goddess Chronicle Dec 4 2013
By Alyssa Greatbanks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For the first few pages I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book, but after the initial explanations and the story took off I found myself hooked.

You don't need to know anything about the mythologies in the book to enjoy it, it was very well written and easy to understand either way. It had a very good story, something touching that will stay with you long after you read it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Nov. 16 2013
By Justin Staley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book. It was gripping and well told. It ended a bit abruptly, but other than that, it was great.
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read April 18 2013
By Courtney Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'd read a few books by Natsuo Kirino before and thought I'd give this one a try. It is very much like her crime novels, very realistic and serious with an air of fantasy. It's worth a look at

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