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Out Hardcover – Aug 12 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International; 1 edition (Aug. 12 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770029055
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770029058
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 22.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #741,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Four women who work the night shift in a Tokyo factory that produces boxed lunches find their lives twisted beyond repair in this grimly compelling crime novel, which won Japan's top mystery award, the Grand Prix, for its already heralded author, now making her first appearance in English. Despite the female bonding, this dark, violent novel is more evocative of Gogol or Dostoyevsky than Thelma and Louise. When Yayoi, the youngest and prettiest of the women, strangles her philandering gambler husband with his own belt in an explosion of rage, she turns instinctively for help to her co-worker Masako, an older and wiser woman whose own family life has fallen apart in less dramatic fashion. To help her cut up and get rid of the dead body, Masako recruits Yoshie and Kuniko, two fellow factory workers caught up in other kinds of domestic traps. In Snyder's smoothly unobtrusive translation, all of Kirino's characters are touching and believable. And even when the action stretches to include a slick loan shark from Masako's previous life and a pathetically lost and lonely man of mixed Japanese and Brazilian parentage, the gritty realism of everyday existence in the underbelly of Japan's consumer society comes across with pungent force. FYI: This novel has been made into a Japanese motion picture.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

A suburban Tokyo woman fed up with her loutish husband kills him in a fit of anger, then confesses her crime to a coworker on the night shift at the boxed-lunch factory. The coworker enlists the help of two other women at the factory to dismember and dispose of the body. Readers beware--Kirino's first mystery to be published in English (it was a best-seller in Japan) involves no madcap female bonding. The tenuous friendship between the four women, all with problems of their own even before becoming accessories to murder, begins to unravel almost immediately. Money changes hands. The body parts are discovered. The police begin asking questions, and a very bad man falsely accused of the crime is determined to find out who really deserves the punishment. The gritty neighborhoods, factories, and warehouses of Tokyo provide a perfect backdrop for this bleak tale of women who are victims of circumstance and intent on self-preservation at all costs. Carrie Bissey
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 1 2006
Format: Paperback
Great psychological thriller and full of irony. It has all the appeal of a well-crafted murder mystery except there is no mystery as we have come to know it in the West. If so, what then rivets our attention, males and females alike? Perhaps it is the fact that Kirino sets out to prove in such a dispassionately gruesome and original fashion what men can do, women can do better: manipulate and destroy others and get a way with it. Her creation of compelling characters such as Satake and Masako and a fast-moving plot to go with them makes for both a satisfying and disturbing read. Good stuff!
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Format: Paperback
"Out" was first published in 1997 and won Japan's top mystery award. It is Natsuo Kirino's first novel to be translated into English. Set in Tokyo, it's centred around four women who work the nightshift in a boxed-lunch factory. The pay is good for a part-time job, but the work is far from rewarding, the hours aren't sociable and the chances for progression are limited. Unfortunately, their home lives aren't much better.

Yoshie is the most likeable of the four friends. She is nicknamed the Skipper since she is so hard-working and effectively runs the line the women work on. Yoshie's husband died from cirrhosis, leaving her to look after her family and mother-in-law - who'd suffered a stroke more than six years previously. She's finding it difficult to make ends meet : the insurance from her husband's death, and her own savings, have been spent - largely on looking after her mother-in-law. She is desperate for her daughter to receive a good education. Meanwhile, her landlord is talking about tearing down her dilapidated house, hoping to build a modern apartment block. Yoshie knows this will involve higher rents.

Kuniko is a different matter entirely. Vain and self-absorbed, she is a thoroughly dislikeable character. She lies about her age, drives an expensive, imported car and spends beyond her means on clothes. She had claimed to be married to her live-in boyfriend : sensibly, he blows town early in the book and carefully covers his tracks. Due to the money she spends on her image, she owes a fortune to a loan-shark.

At 34, Yayoi is the youngest and prettiest of the four friends. Kenji, her husband, had once pursued her relentlessly. However, once married, things changed dramatically. Kenji started spending more time away from home, drinking and gambling.
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By Larry on Feb. 24 2004
Format: Hardcover
OUT by Natsuo Kirino (Kodosha, 2003)
OUT is one of those novels that without the award nomination (the Edgar Award for best novel), would never be brought to the attention of the mystery community in the US. The combination of the small press putting out a very very long translated book is often a formula for disaster. It is a tribute to the Edgar committee that they discovered this gem and gave it the recognition it so deserves.
OUT is the story of four women living in the Tokyo suburbs. What they have in common is that they all work the nightshift in a food packaging plant. All have very different but highly troubled lives. Masako Katori, separated from her husband and living with an alienated and troubled son is lonely and bored. Kuniko Jonouchi is in major trouble with loan sharks in that she insists on living well above her means. Yoshie Azuma, a widow stuck into the role of caretaker of an invalid mother-in-law has two troubled daughters and Yayoi Yamamoto living with two small children and saddled with an abusive husband who gambles away what precious little they have. All their lives get overturned when, in a fit of rage, Yayoi strangles her husband and asks Masako to dispose of the body. She agrees and with the help of the others, they must do all they can to avoid suspicion falling on themselves. This proves highly difficult when the loan sharks haunting Kuniko find out the truth.
Natsuo Kirino has written one of the most original works of the year. It is character rich with a plot so clever that in spite of the length, the pacing moves relatively rapidly. This is not a perfect work, however. Too much minutiae tends to get in the way of the story progression. Black humor takes over and might remind some readers of the tale of SWEENEY TODD. A major problem with this otherwise carefully written work is the suboptimal conclusion which is the most unrealistic part of the book and proves to be highly unsatisfying.
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Format: Hardcover
The story behind OUT is almost as interesting as the novel itself. OUT is the debut novel of Natsuo Kirino; published in 1998 in Japan, and garnering not only awards but also popular accolades, it has only recently seen publication here. Kirino has since gone on to become recognized as Japan's preeminent mystery novelist. Her second novel, SOFT CHEEKS, won the Naoki Prize for literature in 1999 and is scheduled for publication in the United States shortly. Aided by a fine translation by Stephen Snyder, OUT is a dark tale, occasionally relieved by grim humor that transcends cultural differences to tell a riveting story of revenge, betrayal and renewal.
OUT revolves around four women working in a food processing factory, preparing box lunches on an assembly line, performing physically challenging and mentally boring work while they struggle to stay financially and emotionally afloat. Masako Katori is perhaps the best off financially of the four, though she shares a household with a husband who is more like a distant brother and an uncommunicative teenage son who is, in his sullen silence, a total stranger. Yayoi Yamamoto is married to Kenji, an abusive layabout who fritters away his wife's salary and their meager savings in a clandestine baccarat room while showering a prostitute with unrequited love. Kuniko Jonouchi is kind of an odd duck in the group, all flash and no substance, living far beyond her means while she uses clothes and makeup as a quick fix for her physical and emotional unattractiveness. Yoshie Azuma, known as "Skipper" at the factory, is the oldest of the four and is perhaps the most trapped by circumstance. A widow, she is the sole support and caregiver of her invalid mother-in-law and poorly dispositioned teenage daughter.
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