Friday, 24 September 2010
In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
What a roller-coaster this book was.
Kenji is a taxi driver/tour guide for the sex district in Tokyo. If your visiting the city and you want someone to show you the best sex clubs/prostitutes etc. with a translator then Kenji is your man. When an overweight American called Frank hires Kenji for three nights over new years eve, it soon becomes obvious that Frank has murderous desires on his mind. What follows is a descent into evil and murder.
The picture of Tokyo that the author paints is a vivid one and he uses the guide Kenji to great effect as he also 'guides' the reader around the sex district and how large parts of it operate. The conversations between Kenji and Frank are quite compelling and its interesting to see sometimes how Frank knows more about Japanese culture than Kenji and Kenji knows more about some aspects of American culture. There is a lot of commentary on modern travel and life and Kenji muses on the loneliness among the American business travellers he guides (although it has to be said that the kind of Americans Kenji comes into contact with are going to be lonely to a certain extent.)
There is some quite shocking violence in the book but sometimes I found the violence a little too over the top to have realistic impact. The majority of the book follows Kenji as he become more suspicious of Frank who is an unnerving character. Unfortunately the book loses a little momentum during the second part but at only 180 pages it manages to fit a lot in there.
Would I recommend this? If your up for the violence and you want to try this particular Japanese writer then its be a good place to start.
Posted by Jess