アウト 英文版〈OUT〉 (英語) ハードカバー – 2003/5/10
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OUT was awarded the Grand Prix of the Mystery Writers of Japan in 1997-the Asian equivalent of an Edgar.
It is a dynamic example of the work of a new breed of Asian women writers excelling in the smart, hard-nosed, well-written, and realistically plotted mystery novel. Kirino' crime story can stand comparison with the work of other top-notch Western women writers in this genre, like Sarah Paretsky and Ruth Rendell.
The story-though a bare summary makes it seem merely brutal and bloodthirsty, when it is much more than that-focuses on four women who work together in a lunch-box factory in the suburbs of Tokyo. One of them suffers from spouse abuse and, unable to take it any longer, murders her husband and appeals to her co-workers to help her dispose of the corpse. One of these friends---the brain behind the coverup-after cutting up the body in the bathroom of her house, has the other two dump it as garbage. The money from the man's life insurance is then divided among them. But this is only the beginning. The successful, unpremeditated crime and the rewards it brings are the seed of other, premeditated schemes, escalating from one localized use of violence to a rash of similar deeds, with unpredictable outcomes for the women behind them.
As a study in the psychology of domestic repression and the dynamics of violent crime, OUT works on several levels, gripping the reader from its smoldering beginning to the fireburst of its finale.
In hardcover in its original language it sold over 300,000 copies, and a movie version will have its premiere in Tokyo at the end of 2002, with international distribution under discussion.
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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.) which are too convoluted to convey in a normal English sentence, would it really hurt the book's sales figures that much to throw in a footnote or two? Perhaps endnotes if that is asking too much? I have read Korean translations of several of Kirino Natsuo's books and they all contain translator's notes. These notes provide valuable information to the reader of the translation. The fact that they are present in the Korean translations but absent from the English translations indicates to me that certain American publishers tend to look down on their readership. They seem to believe their readers do not have a sufficiently long attention span to read even the slightest footnote, as if such notes would be awkward and out of place, overly "scholarly".
In recent years works by the likes of Dostoevsky, Kafka and Natsume Soseki have been retranslated because the old standbys were overly interpretive and people reading the translations actually wanted to know what these guys were saying. Obviously something is always lost in the translation; i just don't think it has to be this much.
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. Desperation leads them to more and more shocking actions, resulting in two of their deaths and a chilling battle of wits, culminating in a sado-masochistic climax.
Kirino's writing is serviceable for this type of book, not rich in imagery or description but well-paced, focusing on actions and character motivations. She maintains her characters' sense of desperation and builds her story to a suspenseful climax, leaving the reader guessing how her main characters will respond to events. Kirino is most successful in tracing Masako's discovery of hidden strengths as well as her descent into horrifying depravity. We identify with Masako, leaving us wondering just how dark might be the deepest corners of our own souls.
OUT struck me as a particularly Japanese novel, following that culture's peculiar fascination with ritualistic murder and masochistic infliction of pain evidenced by writers like Mishima, movies like IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, and even the recent spate of pop horror movies like THE RING. America's dark side tends toward mass murderers and serial killers, most of whom are regarded as social misfits or freaks (such as Jeffrey Dahmer, or Hannibal Lechter). The power of Kirino's OUT lies in the very ordinariness of its four female protagonists.
I bought OUT as an airplane read before an 18-hour flight; it proved to be an excellent choice for some badly needed escapism. I am hardly an expert on crime novels, but I recommend this book highly as a good read and a bleak look at the underside of modern Japanese life and culture.
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.
"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.
This is definitely a novel noir, with a substantial dose of S&M thrown into the mix. obviously not for the faint of heart. I became absorbed in the story almost instantly, only to have my interest wane after the murder is committed. My attention span was at fault here, not the author's writing. Fortunately I stayed with it because the second half of the novel is even better than the first, I think - really riveting! This is some of the best and most unusual writing I have encountered in some time. It is also very disturbing. Since I do not speak Japanese I can only judge by the translation, and for me the stark, gritty prose really accentuates the building tension in the narrative and the oppressiveness of the environment. I found myself thinking about "Out" long after I had turned the last page.
Ms. Natsuo provides a rare glimpse into the bleak subculture of many lower middle class Japanese workers who live on the margins of society, worlds away from the lights and glitter of Tokyo's Ginza district. Readers also gain access to the grim Japanese underworld. I should note that there is wonderful dark humor throughout to alleviate the oppressive quality of the storyline.
Although Natsuo Kirino is considered one of the best mystery writers in Japan, multiple award-winning novel "Out" is Ms. Kirino's first book to be published in English. It has also been made into a Japanese motion picture.
And then, everything changes: One of the women kills her husband on a whim and seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body. From the moment they agree to help their co-worker, the lives of the four women spiral out of control, into a man's world of danger, intrigue, power and money -- a world that can liberate them from their mundane lives...if it doesn't destroy them first.
OUT is one of the most atmospheric, disturbing novels I've ever read. The imagery is startling and violent, and the characters are exquisitely drawn. Kirino succeeds better than any author I've read -- Japanese or otherwise -- at creating tension in her narrative. OUT is a harrowing tale, completely unexpected and unflinchingly intense. With expert pacing, Kirino reveals the underbelly of Japan -- a darker, more violent Japan that we Americans rarely see in the country's exported products. She reveals a society where money rules, where women are very much second-class, where the yakuza and loan sharks control all the major industries, where desperation permeates everyday life. And yet, while OUT has a lot to say about Japanese culture, it has even more to say about friendship, about loyalty, and about human nature itself. Kirino reveals the motivations behind her characters' actions in ingenious ways, as all four of her creations search for a way OUT of their individual circumstances. And kudos to Stephen Snyder for a brilliant, breathtaking translation!
OUT will make you shiver, make you squirm, and make you think. It's an unforgettable reading experience. Here's hoping we see many more of Natsuo Kirino's books on our shores!