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Out [Hardcover]

Natsuo Kirini
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 12 2003

Out is a Kodansha International publication.

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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

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comparable to Crime and Punishment Aug. 1 2006
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Original and compelling Feb. 24 2004
By Larry
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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Square of Rice Dec 31 2003
Honestly I have never been a big fan of mystery novels. Not that I have anything against them, but I just have never read them. The only one in recent memory that I have read was Miyuki Miyabe's _All She was Worth_ which was a very enjoyable read. Now I have read this book, and let me say I was pretty creeped out without the contents within. The book starts out simply enough describing in mundane detail the daily lives of four women, Masako, Yayoi, Yoshie, and Kuniko, who work at a industry that assembles ready to eat meals. Kuniko is an overweight flashy woman with expensive tastes who also suffers from very low self esteem. Yoshie, called the Skipper because of her hard work ethic, is a long suffering mother of two rebelious girls and the daughter in law of bed ridden woman. Her life is completely dedicated to taking care of others. Yayoi is the beautiful wife of Kenji Yamamoto a man who use to be very affectionate to her, but who has recently fallen for a bar hostess and become addicted to gambling. Then there is Masako a tall, thin 43 year old woman who hides her bitter past from her friends and endures a distant husband and a mute by choice son at home. She is, however, a lady of steel.
Kirino has created an interesting ensemble of characters that the reader can easily identify with. Characters that the reader will both love and pity and readers that s/he will completely loathe. A wonderful book, but please have a strong stomach before you read it. Kirino is quite a graphic writer describing such things as dismemberment and rape. You have been warned...
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love suspense, detective novels
If you love suspense, detective novels, and a mix of horror this is a great novel and it also provides powerful insights on the role of women in Japan. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Paul Cairoli
1.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing
Following the new trend of S & M, this novel explore the absolutely lowest underbelly of the human experience. It was a horrible read. Read more
Published 9 months ago by janet sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars a book you can easily read 2 or 3 times
a fantastic read. This book won the 51st Mystery Writers of Japan award. For me, this book is about finding yourself one day not sure about your life. Read more
Published 17 months ago by chris tomotsugu
5.0 out of 5 stars Great quality
The condition was better than expected and everything is in order. Fast delivery also.
Then book is an amazing read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers!
Published 18 months ago by MickMack
5.0 out of 5 stars Out
Out is vivid and tense from beginning to end. Curious and surprising even though aware of the form. One of the best.
Published on Jan. 6 2012 by Pithy
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Gruesome, Mostly Gripping
"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. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2007 by Craobh Rua
2.0 out of 5 stars Just an old trick
The book is well-translated but the story is predictably boring.
It's so obvious to me that the author is just trying to shock the readers by writing something unusually... Read more
Published on May 19 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but is this a Mystery Novel ?
No need for me to give the short summary of the book again, others have done a great job doing that for me. Read more
Published on April 9 2004 by johndoe2412
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good, but Gruesome Tale
The book was a gift, selected for me because it was an award winning mystgery in Japan and a Staff Pick at our local bookstore. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Susan Kibler
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