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In the Miso Soup [Paperback]

Ryu Murakami , Ralph McCarthy
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 28 2006

From postmodern Renaissance man Ryu Murakami, master of the psychothriller and director of Tokyo Decadence, comes this hair-raising roller-coaster ride through the nefarious neon-lit world of Tokyo’s sex industry. In the Miso Soup tells of Frank, an overweight American tourist who has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo’s sleazy nightlife. But Frank’s behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion—that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It is not until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.

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From Booklist

Easygoing young Kenji makes good money guiding Americans through Tokyo's seamy nightlife. His teenage girlfriend has no objections, as long as he reserves New Year's Eve for her. But Kenji's latest client, a simmering psychopath called Frank, disrupts those holiday plans. He wants to regale Kenji with crazy monologues as he hypnotizes low-level sex workers. A fat man with superhuman strength, skin that's metallic to the touch, and an unsettling habit of telling contradictory lies, Frank immediately raises the guide's hackles. Kenji even suspects that this ugliest of Americans dismembered a local schoolgirl and immolated a homeless man. But until he can prove his suspicions--and for a disturbing while after--Kenji will keep leading this monster man from one bizarre scene to another. It's a compelling nightmare for Kenji and the reader, who both hope he'll either wake up screaming or escape and alert the cops. Instead, everyone remains in evil's thrall until it's too late. A wicked meditation on the worst traits of American and Japanese society, this is a creepy culture clash indeed. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A writer with talent to burn . . . Fellini and Günter Grass, David Bowie and Dostoevski, García Márquez and Mike Leigh’s Naked all come to mind." —Gary Indiana, author of Rent Boy

"A blistering portrait of contemporary Japan . . . one of the most savage thrillers since The Silence of the Lambs." —Kirkus Reviews

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Literary slasher novel? April 7 2004
By kevnm
Kenji meets a serial killer through his work and spends a couple days with him. There's some slaughter, of course, which Kenji passively observes (maybe he's hypnotized by a Visa card. It's complicated.). Anyway, the serial killer is philosophical (uh-oh) and his monologues (and Kenji's reactions) provide some astonishing psychological and sociological critiques: maybe there is no "real" self! Oh yeah, and a lot of people are lonely and others care only about material goods!
This is a cut above (pun intended) lots of slasher trash, but it's not nearly as profound as it thinks it is. Recommended for moody, reflective teens and young adults entranced by the combination of gore and aimless disaffection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and thought provoking April 12 2004
While not usually a fan of the "slash and trash" genre, Murakami's newest gives a reason to explore the subject of the serial killer. Examining both Japanese and American stereotypes and ideosyncracies, the book gives a fascinating portrayal of the "man on the edge". The book moves quickly and was over way before I was ready for it to end. While not his best work, this was worth waiting for. In many ways I can see this as "American Psycho" done correctly. The violence is a little over the top in some sections, but in a kind of quirky style, so not really offensive. Nice translation, no real issues there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A long wait is rewarded . . kind of March 29 2004
It seems like I have been waiting for years, since reading Coin Locker Babies, ATB and Sixty-Nine, for another Ryu Murakami story to read. Now that I have it, I can neither say that I am dissapointed nor wholly satisfied.
I guess that "In the Miso Soup" is categorized as a "psycho-thriller" and other reviews have been negative due to the amount of violence in the book. The story is based in the seedy world of the Tokyo sex trade, so naturally the overall theme is dark and the subject matter for adults. Although there is violence, none of it seemed overly gratuitous to me, and is there mainly to flesh out the characters.
The book is relatively short, which is a let-down after the great saga of Coin-Locker Babies that I enjoyed so much. "Miso Soup" is a good and solid thriller-type story that although not spectacular, is very enjoyable and full of seemingly factual information (on Japanese club/sex/night life).
This book is a must-read for Ryu Murakami fans, since who knows how many years it will be until the next story comes along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars! March 25 2004
Tight, well-written thriller that takes you into the underworld of the sex industry in Shinjuku, Tokyo through the eyes of a tourist guide who gets involved with a psychopathic visitor. Beware of the extremely graphic climax about 2/3s of the way through, not for the faint-of-heart, but if you can handle it, an excellent read.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Ques que c'est? Run run RUN AWAY! March 25 2004
Do I have to give it one star? Well I did finish it. But YUCK! Double YU-UCK and NOT in a fun way. Ultra Passive narrator. Cliched
American psychopath. Enucleation - the putting out of the eyes-featured in each chapter in many forms. Forgettable characters forgotten by author. Formless exposition leading to explanatory apologia. None of this would have ever been amusing, even in the 1980's when the author made a terrible film called "Tokyo Decadence". Hard to believe he also worte the remarkable "Coin Locker Babies" Try that, instead, or "OUT" by Kirino. This book...YUCK!
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