Mieko Kawakami's deep dive into the daily vexations of existence for contemporary Japanese women moved me in a way that no book has for a very long time. The story follows three women (two sisters with a large age difference and one of their pre-teen daughters) , their deceased mother and grandmother, and various female friends and work colleagues. With this broad sample we are able to piece together a grim picture of what it is like to be a woman in Japan today and in the recent past. The writing itself is spare and vibrant with tiny details which put you immediately and intimately in each scene which makes the emotional blows, when they happen, all the more devastating. Just as in real life, you're just minding your own business, going out to eat or whatever (reading a book), and it slaps you in the face with a horrifying revelation, an ugly confrontation, an unwanted intrusion from the past. I had to put the book down after several passages to just absorb the breathtaking moments of clarity for myself and the characters. As each one traverses impossible pains to achieve self-acceptance and some peace, we share in their joy at claiming their futures for themselves. Exceptional reading for book clubs and sure to be in my top 5 of 2020.— From Kelly
A BEST BOOK OF 2020
TIME Magazine・The Atlantic・Book Riot・Electric Literature・The New York Times (Notable Book of the Year)
The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan's most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE.
On a sweltering summer day, Makiko travels from Osaka to Tokyo, where her sister Natsu lives. She is in the company of her daughter, Midoriko, who has lately grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with adolescence. The story of these three women reunited in a working-class neighborhood of Tokyo is told through the gaze of Natsu--thirty years old, an aspiring writer, haunted by hardships endured in her youth. Over the course of their few days together in the capital, Midoriko's silence will prove a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and family secrets.
On yet another blistering summer's day eight years later, Natsu, during a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless.
One of Japan's most important and best-selling writers, Mieko Kawakami mixes stylistic inventiveness, wry humor, and riveting emotional depth to tell a story of contemporary womanhood in Japan. Breasts and Eggs recounts the intimate journeys of three women on the path to finding peace and futures they can call their own.
"Original and deeply moving...This book is a gift."--Laura van den Berg
About the Author
Mieko Kawakami is the author of the internationally best-selling novel, Breasts and Eggs, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of TIME's Best 10 Books of 2020. Born in Osaka, Kawakami made her literary debut as a poet in 2006, and published her first novella, My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, in 2007. Her writing is known for its poetic qualities and its insights into the female body, ethical questions, and the dilemmas of modern society. Her books have been translated into many languages and are available all over the world. She has received numerous prestigious literary awards in Japan, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Murasaki Shikibu Prize. Kawakami lives in Tokyo, Japan.