Life ceremony Stories

Sayaka Murata, 1979-

Book - 2022

"With Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata, whose Convenience Store Woman has now sold more than a million copies worldwide, returns with a brilliant and wonderfully unsettling collection, her most recent fiction to be published in Japan. In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror and turns the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. In "A First-Rate Material," Nana and Naoki are happily engaged, but Naoki ...can't stand the conventional use of deceased people's bodies for clothing, accessories, and furniture, and a disagreement around this threatens to derail their perfect wedding day. "Lovers on the Breeze" is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child's bedroom that jealously watches the young girl Naoko as she has her first kiss with a boy from her class and does its best to stop her. "Eating the City" explores the strange norms around food and foraging, while "Hatchling" closes the collection with an extraordinary depiction of the fractured personality of someone who tries too hard to fit in. In these strange and wonderful stories of family and friendship, sex and intimacy, belonging and individuality, Murata asks what it means to be a human in a world that often seems very strange, and offers answers that surprise and linger"--

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FICTION/Murata Sayaka
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Murata Sayaka (NEW SHELF) Due Aug 20, 2022
1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Murata Sayaka (NEW SHELF) Due Aug 29, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Short stories
Psychological fiction
Published
New York : Grove Press 2022.
Edition
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
Language
English
Japanese
Physical Description
244 pages : 22 cm
ISBN
9780802159588
0802159583
Main Author
Sayaka Murata, 1979- (author)
Other Authors
Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator)
  • A first-rate material
  • A magnificent spread
  • A summer night's kiss
  • Two's family
  • The time of the large star
  • Poochie
  • Life ceremony
  • Body magic
  • Lower on the breeze
  • Puzzle
  • Eating the city
  • Hatchling.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Once more, internationally bestselling Murata confronts unspeakable topics with quotidian calm, shockingly convincing logic, and creepy humor in a dozen genre-defying stories, translated again by her chosen, Japanese-to-English enabler, Takemori. Death is no longer an ending, full stop, in "A First-Rate Material," in which all body parts of the departed are recycled into clothing, jewelry, and furniture, while in "Life Ceremony," the lifeless are consumed to nourish the living, who then are inspired to procreate immediately after. Sex is replaced by artificial insemination as the preferred method to produce children in "A Summer Night's Kiss" and "Two's Family." Food at a family gathering becomes highly individualized in "A Magnificent Spread": "The spread on the table now included the dishes from the magical city of Dundilas, the high-quality pouches of Happy Future Food, and the various insects." Fantastical impossibility becomes commonplace in "The Time of the Large Star" (sleep no more), "Poochie" (homeless humans as children's pets), "Lover on the Breeze" (a possessively anthropomorphized curtain), and "Puzzle" (a woman's body parts might involve an acrimoniously estranged couple). Then there's an urban forager in "Eating the City" and a woman with five personalities in "Hatchling." Murata groupies will appreciate a glimpse of characters from Earthlings (2020), while readers seeking the undefinable will enjoy these tales immensely. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Japanese phenomenon Murata's U.S. debut, Convenience Store Woman, was a multi-best-booked sleeper hit in 2018, and the follow-up Earthlings was a New York Times Notable Book. The stories in her first collection translated into English often seem to take place in an alternate reality, familiar but weird. For instance, engaged couple Nana and Naoki are suddenly quarreling because Naoki hates the convention of using deceased people's bodies for clothes and furniture. Some of the stories here have appeared in Freeman's and Granta. Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Japanese phenomenon Murata's U.S. debut, Convenience Store Woman, was a multi-best-booked sleeper hit in 2018, and the follow-up Earthlings was a New York Times Notable Book. The stories in her first collection translated into English often seem to take place in an alternate reality, familiar but weird. For instance, engaged couple Nana and Naoki are suddenly quarreling because Naoki hates the convention of using deceased people's bodies for clothes and furniture. Some of the stories here have appeared in Freeman's and Granta. Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

"Thirty years ago a completely different sense of values was the norm, and I just can't keep up with the changes," moans Maho in the title story of Murata's first collection published in the United States since her 2018 breakout with Convenience Store Woman. What has Maho so flummoxed is the eating of a deceased person's flesh at the joyous celebrations that have replaced funerals, and many of the stories here explore inversions of accepted standards, challenging us to consider why we believe what we believe. Engaged couple Nana and Naoki quarrel because Naoki is repulsed by the use of human bodies for clothes and furniture, which to most people seems both to honor the deceased and to use resources efficiently. In a wily sendup of cross-cultural (mis)understanding, a woman gulps down blue-powdered health drinks with her husband even as she is horrified to learn that her sister plans to cook for her future in-laws—the sister claims to come from the magical city of Dundilas, where the food is decidedly different. But rapprochement is achieved in the end. VERDICT Though a few stories could have been better developed, Murata's premises are always eye-opening, and the result will intrigue and satisfy readers of literary and speculative fiction alike. Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this off-kilter collection, Murata (Convenience Store Woman) brings a grotesque whimsy to her fables of cultural norms. Eating habits are a recurring theme. In "A Magnificent Spread," a woman plans to serve strange dishes from her imaginary kingdom, "the magical city of Dundilas," at a gathering for her fiancé's parents, who have their own dietary preferences. The moral, it seems, is that one shouldn't impose one's culture on other people. The title story is set in an alternate Japan with an endangered human population, which has led to the macabre custom of eating deceased people at their funerals and then finding an "insemination partner." In "Eating the City," a forager prowls Tokyo for local greens—dandelions, mugwort, fleabane—in an effort to develop a closer connection to the urban jungle. Seeing a homeless person on one of her outings, she reflects: "I was probably more a feral human than he was." The final story, "Hatchling," presents a reductive take on the difference between one's social persona and one's authentic self. The wooden dialogue adds to the sense of comic defamiliarization, which produces the kind of laughs that catch in the throat. Like the author's novels, this brims with ideas though it's less enchanting. (July) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"With Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata, whose Convenience Store Woman has now sold more than a million copies worldwide, returns with a brilliant and wonderfully unsettling collection, her most recent fiction to be published in Japan. In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror and turns the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. In "A First-Rate Material," Nana and Naoki are happily engaged, but Naoki can't stand the conventional use of deceased people's bodies for clothing, accessories, and furniture, and a disagreement around this threatens to derail their perfect wedding day. "Lovers on the Breeze" is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child's bedroom that jealously watches the young girl Naoko as she has her first kiss with a boy from her class and does its best to stop her. "Eating the City" explores the strange norms around food and foraging, while "Hatchling" closes the collection with an extraordinary depiction of the fractured personality of someone who tries too hard to fit in. In these strange and wonderful stories of family and friendship, sex and intimacy, belonging and individuality, Murata asks what it means to be a human in a world that often seems very strange, and offers answers that surprise and linger"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Blending together humor and horror, this stellar short-story collection by the author of the cult sensation Convenience Store Woman, translated into English for the first time, portrays weird love, heartfelt friendships and the unsettling nature of human existence.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The long-awaited first short story-collection by the author of the cult sensation Convenience Store Woman, tales of weird love, heartfelt friendships, and the unsettling nature of human existenceWith Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata is back with her first collection of short stories ever to be translated into English. In Japan, Murata is particularly admired for her short stories, which are sometimes sweet, sometimes shocking, and always imbued with an otherworldly imagination and uncanniness.In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror to portray both the loners and outcasts as well as turning the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. Whether the stories take place in modern-day Japan, the future, or an alternate reality is left to the reader’s interpretation, as the characters often seem strange in their normality in a frighteningly abnormal world. In “A First-Rate Material,” Nana and Naoki are happily engaged, but Naoki can’t stand the conventional use of deceased people’s bodies for clothing, accessories, and furniture, and a disagreement around this threatens to derail their perfect wedding day. “Lovers on the Breeze” is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child’s bedroom that jealously watches the young girl Naoko as she has her first kiss with a boy from her class and does its best to stop her. “Eating the City” explores the strange norms around food and foraging, while “Hatchling” closes the collection with an extraordinary depiction of the fractured personality of someone who tries too hard to fit in.In these strange and wonderful stories of family and friendship, sex and intimacy, belonging and individuality, Murata asks above all what it means to be a human in our world and offers answers that surprise and linger.