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Out: A Novel Paperback – January 4, 2005

194 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Four women who work the night shift in a Tokyo factory that produces boxed lunches find their lives twisted beyond repair in this grimly compelling crime novel, which won Japan's top mystery award, the Grand Prix, for its already heralded author, now making her first appearance in English. Despite the female bonding, this dark, violent novel is more evocative of Gogol or Dostoyevsky than Thelma and Louise. When Yayoi, the youngest and prettiest of the women, strangles her philandering gambler husband with his own belt in an explosion of rage, she turns instinctively for help to her co-worker Masako, an older and wiser woman whose own family life has fallen apart in less dramatic fashion. To help her cut up and get rid of the dead body, Masako recruits Yoshie and Kuniko, two fellow factory workers caught up in other kinds of domestic traps. In Snyder's smoothly unobtrusive translation, all of Kirino's characters are touching and believable. And even when the action stretches to include a slick loan shark from Masako's previous life and a pathetically lost and lonely man of mixed Japanese and Brazilian parentage, the gritty realism of everyday existence in the underbelly of Japan's consumer society comes across with pungent force. FYI: This novel has been made into a Japanese motion picture.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A suburban Tokyo woman fed up with her loutish husband kills him in a fit of anger, then confesses her crime to a coworker on the night shift at the boxed-lunch factory. The coworker enlists the help of two other women at the factory to dismember and dispose of the body. Readers beware--Kirino's first mystery to be published in English (it was a best-seller in Japan) involves no madcap female bonding. The tenuous friendship between the four women, all with problems of their own even before becoming accessories to murder, begins to unravel almost immediately. Money changes hands. The body parts are discovered. The police begin asking questions, and a very bad man falsely accused of the crime is determined to find out who really deserves the punishment. The gritty neighborhoods, factories, and warehouses of Tokyo provide a perfect backdrop for this bleak tale of women who are victims of circumstance and intent on self-preservation at all costs. Carrie Bissey
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078370
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

170 of 197 people found the following review helpful By Japrisot on September 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read this book in the original Japanese, i was curious about the translation. Some called it bland while others said it was "excellent" and even Amazon's own reviewer calls it "unobtrusive". Well, it does not appear that any of these opinions were rendered by people who could compare it to the original so perhaps my two cents here will not be a total waste.
In my opinion, the English translation of "Out" is a work unto itself. I wouldn't even call it a translation; more like an "interpretation". many things which are stated in Japanese are not stated in English. I mean things like, you know, nouns, verbs, adjectives, perhaps entire sentences... it's not like these are subtle nuances.
I think this was deliberate on the part of the translator, whose obvious aim was to create a very smooth, readable product in English. i think he has succeeded in that respect. I think the publisher's marketing arm should be quite happy with its unobtrusiveness.

However, i'm not so sure that i agree with that approach to translation. maybe if you're translating poetry or something whacked out like Finnegan's Wake, you have no choice but to take some serious poetic license. But geez, this is a novel. There is a lot of descriptive language--Kirino's Japanese is much more challenging than, say, Murakami Haruki (himself a translator) or Suzuki Koji (he of The Ring fame). So, i agree that it would not be easy to do a straight-up translation and make it seem like it was originally written in English. But to me, that's half the fun. why do we need to pretend it needs to sound like it was written in English to begin with?

If there are subtleties (grammatical, cultural, etc.
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93 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader on August 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Masako, Yayoi, Yoshie, and Kumiko work the night shift at a boxed lunch factory in a characterless Tokyo suburb. Each has her reason for working at night and earning a little extra money: Masako's husband and son have grown so distant that she finds it less painful to be away from them as much as possible. Yayoi has small children and a spendthrift husband. Widowed Yoshie cares for an invalid mother-in-law and a teen daughter in the throes of rebellion, and young Kumiko`s taste for luxury has put her deep in debt. They are ordinary women living in a dull suburb with boring jobs and dead-end lives who manage to find the gallows humor in their situation.. Yet before Out is over, one of them will have murdered her husband, two will embark on a sickening business venture, and one will be dead.
Author Natsuo Kirino won Japan's top mystery award for this novel, which smashes the perception of Japan as a society of either anal, work-focused drones or trendy Ginza teens. These women live surprisingly close to the underworld, and they find that violence and seedy glamour are closer than they think. "Out" is dark, violent, and psychologically astute--the very definition of noir. This is Kirino's first book to appear in English, and apparently her other award-winner will be published in English soon. This novel is highly recommended for readers who like to explore the dark side of a different culture.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on December 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As Edgar Allen Poe and Rod Serling both demonstrated, the best horror stories take place in the most mundane settings, involving the most ordinary people. Natsuo Kirino's OUT brilliantly follows this dictum, presenting a chilling tale of murder and dismemberment under the most ordinary of circumstances. The result is a gripping page-turner that turns victimizers into victims and ultimately probes the darkest corners of the Japanese psyche.

OUT begins with four typical Japanese women who work the night shift together at a box lunch factory. Masako Katori is a middle-aged, former office worker locked into a loveless marriage to a self-isolating husband and an intentionally mute teenage son. Yoshie Azuma is a widow in her late fifties, burdened with the care of an incontinent mother-in-law and two self-centered daughters. Kuniko Jonouchi is an overweight and materialistic young woman whose live-in "husband" has just abandoned her and her small mountain of credit debt. Yayoi Yamamoto is a pretty young mother of two children and wife to a gambling, skirt-chasing husband who has blown their life savings at the baccarat tables of a club owned by Mitsuyoushi Satake, a small-time hood with a horrifying secret past.

It is Yayoi who triggers events by strangling her husband in a fit of rage. Realizing what she has done, she calls Masako for help, and they jointly decide to hide the murder and get rid of the body. Their solution eventually sucks Yoshie and Kuniko into their plot, and Satake is fingered by the police as the most likely killer of Yayoi's husband. Satake loses both of his clubs as a consequence and sets out on a course of revenge. The four women's lives head into a free falling death spiral as they are unwittingly drawn into one another's lives and into the yakuza underworld.
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Format: Paperback
Four women, co-workers on the night shift at a box lunch factory on the outskirts of Tokyo, form an unlikely friendship based on their mutual desperation -a dissatisfaction with their inattentive, unresponsive husbands and disaffected children, strained economic situations and emotional isolation. When Yayoi Yamamoto, a young wife and mother kills her abusive, philandering spouse, the four come together voluntarily to perform a most grisly act. They dismember the body to facilitate disposal. Although of disparate ages and characters, the women become quite bound to one another through an increasing web of conspiracy, self-interest and suspicion. A series of indiscretions and careless mistakes expose them all to unforeseeable dangers.

"Out" is so much more than a psychological thriller or a formulaic crime novel. This is fiction that surpasses genre. Although plot driven, much of the story is dependent on character development and change. The characters are portrayed so vividly, even the minor ones, that the reader cannot help but form a strong attachment to them. It really does not matter, ultimately, if the connection is positive or not - one still looks forward to following the various personages forward to their individual destinies. Masako Katori, shrewd and extremely intelligent, is the definite leader among the women and an absolutely fascinating figure. Although she has perfected a cold, detached veneer with which she presents herself to the world, inside she is despondent and in turmoil. Increasingly alone and alienated from her husband and teenage son, she longs for "freedom." "It had started with something in her. Her hopelessness and a longing for freedom had brought her to this point." Masako is looking for a way "out" of her claustrophobic life.
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