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Coin Locker Babies Paperback – August 9, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; 2nd edition edition (August 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9784770028969
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770028969
  • ASIN: 4770028962
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The third of this prolific Japanese author's 30 novels to appear in English, this is a cyber-Bildungsroman of playful breadth and uncertain depth. Two mothers abandon their infant boys in the Yokohama train station's coin lockers. The reader is not spared the mechanics of packaging a child in a parcel, nor the grim details of any of the other episodes of discomfort and suffering which follow in incremental doses, though always with such whimsy that the reader wonders whether or not to be offended. The heroes, Kiku and Hashi, grow up together; but, beyond their bizarre beginnings, they couldn't be more different. Kiku becomes a homicidal pole-vaulter whose inner rage gives him unusual speed and strength, but which also fosters an obsession with murder and a secret drug that sets any creature into a killing frenzy. The more delicate Hashi strives to find his mother, supporting himself as a prostitute in Toxitown?a chemical disaster zone insulated from Tokyo by a wall and armed guards?until one of his johns discovers his musical talent and makes him a star. The settings seem lifted from Japanese animation epics: an abandoned mining town, an underwater tunnel and a retreat in the mountains. At times, Murakami rambles, as in the case of a taxi driver's pointless monologue or the long interviews with women who might be Hashi's mother. Such digressions, however, are less the product of careless craft than of a lush and frantic imagination overwhelming its own project. Though expansive and exciting as its scope, the novel is as unfocused as its troubled heroes.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 69 (LJ 9/15/93) Murakami's last novel published in English, the prevailing tone was one of hip innocence. In Coin Locker Babies, any hint of innocence is decidedly absent. The coin locker babies of the title are two abandoned infants rescued from train station lockers, and the novel follows their adventures through boyhood into manhood. They wander through the sort of hellish, surreal landscape usually associated with dismal sf visions of the future, but in this book the hell is contemporary Japan. The journeys of the two are relentlessly dark and disturbing: matricide, violent sex, mutilation, vengeance, insanity, perversion, and mass destruction are all explored, usually graphically and with relish. The work of Murakami?who is also a filmmaker?begs comparison with film. Robocop comes to mind as bearing the closest resemblance to this novel, although the book lacks the satiric edge that many claimed to have found in that film. Large collections with a particular interest in contemporary fiction may find a place for this. Otherwise, it is not recommended.?Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., N.Y.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

A truly stunning work.
Morgan A. DeCaul
Even though its a bit long, I burned through it quickly.
I finished this 400 page book in 2 1/2 days!!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ryu Murakami, Coin Locker Babies (Kodansha, 1995)
For thirty years, Japan has waited for someone to step up and fill the rather sizable shoes left by Yukio Mishima when he committed suicide after a failed attempt at a coup d'etat. It seems that Ryu Murakami has finally stepped up for the job.
Mishima's work was singular in that it combined the beauty and spareness of haiku with random, seemingly meaningless (until one looked below the surface) acts of despair and violence. Murakami treaded these waters in such previous works as Sixty-Nine and Audition while adding his own touches to the mix; in Coin Locker Babies, Murakami has fully assimilated the spirit of Mishima while simultaneously strengthening his own voice into something that is both complete and stunning.
Coin Locker Babies is the story of two brothers. Well, almost brothers. Both abandoned by heir mothers in bus station coin lockers as infants, the two are discovered and sent to the same orphanage, where they become inseparable. Adopted by the same couple, they grow up together on a southern island, but eventually return to the city to find their mothers. Along the way, one grows up to become a decadent pop star; the other, a disciplined pole vaulter. Yet the differences between the two are always overshadowed by their similarities as they progress through their lives.
Kiku and Hashi are destined to become two of literature's classic antiheroes. Angry, confused, incapable of understanding how their circumstances have molded them, the two stumble through life facing misfortune after misfortune, still somehow managing to come out in front of everyone else. They juggle their conflicting emotions with aplomb, being completely irratinoal much of the time yet without ever doing anything even remotely out of character.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the second Murakami Ryu book that I have read. My interest in him was peaked by talk of the "Other Murakami," the dark reflection of award-winning popular novelist Murakami Haruki. My first Ryu book, "Almost Transparent Blue," was a captivating tale of bottom-feeders and gutter-life in tune with Irvine Welsh's "Trainspotting" and William S. Burroughs's "Junky." This dirty little tale grabbed my interest and got me hunting for the next adventure. And then "Coin Locker Baby" blew me away.

Unlike the semi-autobiographical nature of "Almost Transparent Blue," "Coin Locker Babies" is a full-fledged novel, an unsettling fantasy firmly rooted in a grim reality. Taking its title and beginning on an actual cultural phenomenon in Japan, that of unhappy mothers abandoning their new-born children in train station coin lockers, Ryu then manifests a strange Japan, an amalgamation of anime-world and modern troubles. It is a place where Tokyo harbors a corrupted and polluted abandoned city, called Toxitown, right in the middle of its most exclusive business district. A place where a fashion model keeps a full-grown crocodile in her swampy apartment, and a hero's greatest ambition is to kill everyone and bring peace.

Into this bizarro Japan Ryu introduces two boys, the only survivors of the coin-locker baby fad. A bi-sexual popstar (Hashi) who is slowly being consumed by his fame, and a jockish pole-vaulter (Kiku) who seeks to unleash poison death and silence the world. Each has an equally fitting lover: Anemone, a ethereal beauty who hunts for a Crocodile Heaven, and Neva, whose breasts having been lost to cancer makes her the perfect companion for the bi-sexual star.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Even though it's filled with violence, destruction, and [stomach turning] passages, I surprisingly enjoyed reading "Coin Locker Babies." It is the life story of 2 babies, Kiku and Hashi, who were abadoned in train staion coin lockers. They grow up together and then eventually go separate ways, both living rather messed up lives, but through it all they are searching for something to set them free. With intriguing characters like a beautiful girl with a pet crocodile and an action-packed plot depicting men's desire to destroy and men's will to live all at once, this book will keep you thinking and entertained even if you get grossed out from time to time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Henry Platte on April 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I put off reading this book for a long time because I thought, from reading the cover, that I knew exactly what it was going to be like; snide, hip and cynical, and hopelessly depressing. It is all of those things to a degree, but it's amazing in that despite its relentless depiction of casual violence, squalor and destruction, Coin Locker Babies still manages to be deeply human at every turn.
Sympathy is developed first of all for the main characters, who seem completley justified in their bitterness and eccentricty; the book first follows their twisted yet idyllic childhood with their foster parents on an island. The foster parents, painfully ordinary people, are treated with much more tact than I expected. At different points, the mother and the father each express regret that they failed to be better parents; the moments are touching and redeeming.
The psychology in this book, though spotty at times (because some of the characters are just so bizzare), is accurate in that the signficance of it is considered. While Kiku and Hashi might be dramatic and larger-than-life, their dependance on each other and on their foster parents, and their complicated attitudes towards the mothers who left them to die, keep showing through. The relationship between the bisexual Hashi and his wife is also very convincing; that between Kiku and his girlfriend less so, though.
The author also doesn't neglect scenery, or the small, basically irrelevant details which add charm to a narrative. There's a host of loveable minor characters, the best of them convicted murderers, who become in time as sympathetic as Hashi and Kiku. In the end, also, the message is tentatively optomistic, holding up the decree YOU MUST LIVE in the face of disaster. This is one of the most complex, engaging and endearing contemporary novels I've come across, and shows that there may be hope even for this frenetic, disillusioned generation.
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