Thursday, November 25, 2021

Out by Natsuo Kirino


After reading and feeling like REAL WORLD was a pretty mediocre book, I approached OUT with tempered expectations. The premise sounded fascinating though. OUT is about a group of Japanese women working in a lunch factory. One day, one of them kills her abusive husband and enlists her friends to help her to dispose of the body. What ensues is a dark and pretty twisted story that involves morbid descriptions of corpse disposal and involvement from the yakuza.

I liked OUT a lot. I felt like it lost steam at the end, but 80% of the story kept me turning pages like nobody's business. I find Japan fascinating and I actually really liked the descriptions of the factory work and the lunches. The women were also all interesting in their own way, because I felt like each one embodied a woman at a various stage of womanhood and dissatisfaction. There's Masako, a middle-aged housewife with a shady history who is estranged from her husband and son. There's Yoshie, the single mother with two ill-behaved daughters and a mother-in-law she is indebted to. There's Kuniko, a spoiled and overweight young woman who struggles with body image and her desire for material things. And then there's Yayoi, a woman who embodies the ideal of the "perfect wife" to no avail.

I'm surprised that the ratings for this book are so low. I've read about three of Kirino's books at this point and I feel like this is the best because it shows the sexism and frustration that arise from the so-called traditional gender roles, and what happens when women get sick of fitting into those cramped little boxes and decide to break free in a truly graphic and unconventional way. None of these women were likable, which is maybe why so many struggled to finish, but I found them all interesting and relatable, and I appreciated the feminist social commentary through the dark thriller lens.

If you enjoy female-centric thrillers with antiheroines and shocking moments of horror, I think you'll like OUT. Just be prepared for it to fizzle a little at the end.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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