“My life was like a dusty shelf in an old bookstore, where every volume was exactly where it had been for ages, the only discernible change being that my body has aged another ten years.”
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published: July 11, 2019
Rate: 3.5 ⭐⭐⭐
Challenging every preconception about storytelling and prose style, mixing wry humor and riveting emotional depth, Kawakami is today one of Japan’s most important and best-selling writers. She exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist.
Breasts and Eggs paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan and recounts the intimate journeys of three women as they confront oppressive mores and their own uncertainties on the road to finding peace and futures they can truly call their own.
It tells the story of three women: the thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister, Makiko, and Makiko’s daughter, Midoriko. Makiko has traveled to Tokyo in search of an affordable breast enhancement procedure. She is accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with growing up. Her silence proves a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and frustrations.
On another hot summer’s day ten years later, Natsu, on a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless.
Breast and Eggs is a novella written in two parts, and I found that I loved the first part much more than the second. I love how expansive and reflective this book is. Mieko Kawakami touches on womanhood, fertility, motherhood and explores the female bodies in such a bold way, I loved it!
Breast and Eggs is translated from Japanese to English and I’d say, I don’t think much was lost in translation. It was such a pleasure to read. Mieko Kawakami writing is really good, and I felt like she was able to deliver on the story she was telling.
Her writing is descriptive, so vivid that there were certain scenes I’d read and be repulsed by the picture painted, others warmed my heart while some had me quite surprised. Now that’s a trifecta you don’t see every day.
“Prejudice had biased my imagination.”
The characters in this book are quite the people to read about. From the unreliable narrator, to the morally grey characters, they made the story even more remarkable.
In as much as I quite liked this book, I did find some parts lagging and made me bored. I pushed through because I really wanted to know how it ended, but the plot dipped and picked up every so often that it made reading the book a chore.
All in all Breast and Eggs is a wonderful book in translation, touching on important themes that I think if it’s something of interest for you, do pick it up. Also, the title is quite apt!
Have you read this Breast and Eggs? What did you think about it?