Out
Melody
ISBN-13: 9780099472285
Publisher: Random House
Published: 2004
520pp
Translated by Stephen Snyder


From the blurb:

In the Tokyo suburbs four women work the draining graveyard shift at a boxed-lunch factory. Burdened with chores and heavy debts and isolated from husbands and children, they all secretly dream of a way out of their dead-end lives.

A young mother among them finally cracks and strangles her philandering, gambling husband then confesses her crime to Masako, the closest of her colleagues. For reasons of her own, Masako agrees to assist her friend and seeks the help of the other co-workers to dismember and dispose of the body. The body parts are discovered, the police start asking questions, but the women have far more dangerous enemies - a yakuza-connected loan shark who discovers their secret, and a ruthless nightclub owner the police are convinced is guilty of the murder. He has lost everything as a result of their crime and he is out for revenge.


What would one do if he or she is being pushed beyond the limits? For housewife Yayoi Yamamoto's case, she murdered her husband, Kenji when she found out he has been spending all their savings in gamblings and on a hostess whom he fancied at a club. Masako Katori agrees to help her, partly because she felt her situation is very much like Yayoi's - having worked so hard and no one seems to appreciate them.

Masako is like a leader amongst the four; she takes the whole situation in stride and has everything all planned. She is also the most gutsy amongst them; perhaps that is due to the result of her working in a male-dominated office and she does not show her defeat easily, even though she is being asked to go in the end.

On the other hand, Yoshie and Kuniko are desperate to make ends meet so they agree to be accomplices since each needs money and Masako told them they will get a share once things have been settled.

Club owner, Mitsuyoshi Satake had a dark past but his heart is into his club business until a murder case ruined everything for him. Kenji fancied one of his hostesses but Satake thinks he is trouble, and someone witnessed them having a fight so that led him being a suspect.

Loan shark Jumonji is after Kuniko because she has several loan repayments to be settled with him but she made a deal with him in order to cancel her loans.

Then, like a domino effect things began to get out of hand as the four women sank deeper into various horrific consequences and could not seem to get out. Natsuo Kirino is an outstanding author; she had all the plots skillfully laid out as she took her readers into the four women's dark world, sharing their frustrations and pressures being Japanese housewives with not much position in the male-dominated society.

Out is not an easy read. It is dark, but yet it also leads one to think of the harsh reality of life and that money is often the culprit under all circumstances. I also had a hard time digesting the fact that what look like simple-minded housewives could resort to such horrific unimaginable crime. But then again, I sympathise with them in a way, because if the society (or their husbands) have treated them better and with some respect, I guess things might have worked out differently for them. I look forward to reading her other releases, Grotesque and Real World, both of them I have in my to-be-read pile.


Other blog reviews:
Bell Literary Reflections
Bookgirl's Nightstand
Estella's Revenge (Reviewed by Carl V)
In Spring It is the Dawn
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)

12 Responses
  1. Alice Teh Says:

    Great review, Melody! I have this in my wish list for some time already but since I'm a book ban, I'll wait to get it... :)


  2. Great review, Melody! It definitely wasn't an easy book to read. While I never agreed with what these women did, I could see how they ended up taking that path. The author managed to make me like and feel for the women, even despite their terrible actions. That's always a feat in and of itself!


  3. Debi Says:

    Oh Melody, you've made me more anxious than ever to get to this one! Why can't there just be more hours in a day?!!


  4. Nymeth Says:

    I really want to get to this one too. It sounds very dark, but also very worthwhile.


  5. Iliana Says:

    You are right, this wasn't an easy book. I think it's definitely one of those that crosses the genre - I think I've seen it in the mystery section but I think it's much more than a regular mystery novel.

    And, yes, wasn't it crazy that you started sympathizing with the women who did all of this? I mean, I think that just speaks of how great the author was able to show us these characters.

    I still have to do my review! How do I always fall so behind :)


  6. Ladytink_534 Says:

    I've heard a few things about this one and I'm almost positive it was made into a movie too.


  7. Melody Says:

    Alice - Thanks! :) I'm hoping you'd get it soon. It's very thrilling!

    Wendy - Thank you! :) Indeed the author has done a great job of making her characters stand out from the story! Now I can't wait to read her next book, Grotesque! I'm hoping it'd be as thrilling as Out.

    Debi - I hope you'd read this book next!!! I just could not describe how much I love this story, although I hate to read the horrible crime which the four women did! I wish there're more hours in a day too! :P

    Nymeth - It's indeed a dark story, but also a sad one IMO.

    Iliana - I agree it's more than a mystery novel. Although what the women did was wrong, but still you couldn't help but sympathise their situation. Natsuo Kirino is indeed a talented author, isn't she? I can't wait to read your review! :)

    Jen - I want to watch the movie!!! I don't think I've seen it being released here so I'll have to check out the DVD (if they do have it!). Thanks!


  8. Julia Says:

    Great review, sound like it was a good book. Going to have to check to see if this be the kind of book I like to read...

    As always reading your review is always been interesting and fun!


  9. Melody Says:

    Thanks, Julia! :) It's a terrific thriller; I hope you'd read it too!


  10. Novroz Says:

    I love your review...I find it better than my review :)

    I wish I can read her other books too.

    Japanese are full with great writters


  11. Novroz Says:

    I love your review...I find it better than my review :)

    I wish I can read her other books too.

    Japanese are full with great writters


  12. Melody Says:

    Novroz - Thank you! Every one of us have our way of writing reviews. :)

    I haven't read her other books yet but I'm hoping I would soon. There're just too many books, LOL!