Mieko Kawakami, 1976-

Book - 2021

Hailed as a bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami's novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormenters. These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical ...and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.Kawakami's simple yet profound new work stands as a dazzling testament to her literary talent. There can be little doubt that it has cemented her reputation as one of the most important young authors working to expand the boundaries of contemporary Japanese literature.

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/Kawakami Mieko
2 / 2 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Kawakami Mieko Checked In
1st Floor FICTION/Kawakami Mieko Checked In
New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions 2021.
Item Description
"Original title: Hevun. Translation copyright ©2021 by Mieko Kawakami"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
190 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Mieko Kawakami, 1976- (author)
Other Authors
Sam Bett, 1986- (translator), David (David G.) Boyd
Review by Booklist Review

Kawakami's (Breasts and Eggs, 2020) powerful and unassuming novel explores horrific accounts of bullying in a Japanese school. The unnamed 14-year-old narrator gets tormented by classmates for having a lazy eye. Instead of standing up to them, he resigns himself to his fate, believing there is nothing he can do about it. A female fellow student, Kojima, notices him and starts leaving him notes in his pencil case. They become friends but never talk to each other at school. At the beginning of summer, Kojima asks the boy to come with her to Heaven: a place where those who have endured immense sadness now live in harmony. However, their trip is cut short when they both realize they cannot completely escape their realities back home. When they are cornered by their tormentors together, the boy is faced with the choice to stand up and fight or to commit an act of aggression against his only friend. Kawakami's depiction of cruelty among youths is raw and vivid. She uses her characters to explore the thought processes behind bullies and their victims and how such depraved human behaviors can exist. Her sensitive, evocative storytelling sets her apart as an incredible literary talent.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Kawakami (Breasts and Eggs) returns with a searing account of bullying and adolescent angst. In the vast, violent wasteland of middle school, the 14-year-old unnamed narrator endures horrific physical abuse from a group of sadistic classmates, assuming it's due to his lazy eye. In graphic detail, Kawakami describes the escalating harm brought to him, from his being made to ingest toilet water, a goldfish, and scraps of food from a pet rabbit's cage, to having chalk stuffed up his nose, being shoved into a locker, and an excruciatingly brutal confrontation in a gym, leaving him with the heartbreaking "desire to disappear." When he receives an anonymous note in his desk seeking friendship, he suspects it's a prank, but discovers it's from a female schoolmate who is also being humiliated. They meet in the school stairwell to share stories and later take summer excursions out of town, and suffer a stunning final encounter with their adversaries, during which one of the culprits explains the unexpected and startling reasons behind the attacks. This incident is particularly harrowing, and Kawakami unflinchingly takes the reader through the abyss of depraved, dehumanizing behavior with keen psychological insight, brilliant sensitivity, and compassionate understanding. With this, the author's star continues to rise. (May)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

This novel from the author of Breasts and Eggs (2020) takes on another subject seldom tapped in literary fiction and blows it open with raw and eloquent intensity. Kawakami has a unique knack for burrowing into discomfort, and she does it in a startlingly graceful way. Like her last novel--an unsparing treatise on the pressures of being a woman in male-dominated Japan--this book isn't for the fainthearted. Told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy in present-day Japan, Kawakami's tale follows the volatile lives of two teenagers relentlessly bullied by their peers. At the outset, our protagonist--he's referred to as "Eyes" by his tormentors because of his lazy eye--begins a furtive exchange of notes with Kojima, a quiet girl who's also suffered at the hands of her classmates. Kojima has "stiff-looking hair" that sticks out in all directions and white shoes that are scuffed and dirty. Our narrator believes his eye is "behind all [his] problems...like a slimy deep sea fish from a hidden world." Brought together by their differences and their shared victimhood, the two teens find a safe haven in the world of words they build. Rather than fight back, they actively succumb to the daily violence wreaked on them, clinging to the philosophy that giving in can be an act of resistance. "No matter what they do, we come to school each day, which makes them even more scared," Kojima reasons. On the contrary, the harm they endure becomes more severe, and cheap kicks and punches escalate into grisly attacks that border on snuff. Still, Kawakami manages to pull us further in, illuminating the perils within the social structures we've been taught to trust. An unexpected classic. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.