Books: In the Miso Soup (Ryū Murakami)

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011-02-04 19:41:48 No comments

Tokyo nightlife tour guide Kenji, who has made an art form out of letting the sleaze he witnesses slide off his back, finds himself with something he can't shrug off when an American tourist named Frank turns out to be a serial killer. Despite the dodgy-sounding outward premise—and some truly vile moments of violence that are too emotionally loaded to be mere horror-movie gore—this is one of Ryū Murakami's best books in English, and in the end a downright elegiac one. The seedy underworld landscape is an obvious selling point, but the real value of the book is in how it sees Frank not as a Nietzschean Übermensch but rather an unfocused damage case. He's a killer and there's no ducking away from that, but Murakami takes the time to think about him as a character and not simply use him (or Kenji) as a mouthpiece for his sociology. Not easy reading, and not the most accessible of Murakami’s work (for that my vote goes with 69), but rewarding for those with the stomach.

Tags: Japan Ryū Murakami books fiction review