Hot Best Seller

In the Miso Soup PDF, ePub eBook

4.6 out of 5
30 review

In the Miso Soup

Availability: Ready to download

File Name: In the Miso Soup .pdf

How it works:

1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.

2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)

3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.


In the Miso Soup PDF, ePub eBook It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until later, however, tha It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until later, however, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.

30 review for In the Miso Soup

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”I had just turned twenty, and though my English is far from perfect I was working as a ‘nightlife guide’ for foreign tourists. Basically I specialize in what you might call sex tours, so it’s not as if my English needs to flawless. Since AIDS, the sex industry hasn’t exactly welcomed foreigners with open arms--in fact, most of the clubs are pretty blatant about refusing service to gaijin--but lots of visitors from overseas are still determined to play, and they’re the ones who pay me to guide t ”I had just turned twenty, and though my English is far from perfect I was working as a ‘nightlife guide’ for foreign tourists. Basically I specialize in what you might call sex tours, so it’s not as if my English needs to flawless. Since AIDS, the sex industry hasn’t exactly welcomed foreigners with open arms--in fact, most of the clubs are pretty blatant about refusing service to gaijin--but lots of visitors from overseas are still determined to play, and they’re the ones who pay me to guide them to relatively safe cabarets and massage parlors and S&M bars and what have you. I’m not employed by a company and don’t even have an office, but by running a simple ad in an English-language tourist magazine I make enough to rent a nice studio apartment in Meguro, take my girl out for Korean barbecue once in a while, and listen to the music I like and read the things I want to read. “ Red Light District Life maybe wasn’t going well for Kenji, but it certainly wasn’t going poorly for him either, but there is most assuredly a before and after in his life. The after begins when he meets the American tourist Frank. There is something not quite right about Frank. Kenji has formed some opinions about Americans over the years. ”What’s good about Americans, if I can generalize a little, is that they have a kind of openhearted innocence. And what’ not so good is that they can’t imagine any world outside the States, or any value system different from their own. The Japanese have a similar defect, but Americans are even worse about trying to force others to do whatever they themselves believe to be right. American clients often forbid me to smoke and sometimes even make me accompany them on their daily jogs. In a word, they’re childish--but maybe that’s what makes their smile so appealing.” Usually Kenji just escorts guys around showing their options for “entertainment” and then if they insist, rarely so, he accompanies them into the clubs and service oriented places. Frank keeps him close, even starts to consider him a friend, and at one point insists on getting his picture taken with Kenji. This required very close contact. ”I’m not saying that Frank revolted me, but I wasn’t about to press my cheek against his. Just the fact that he was a man made it bad enough, but Frank also had that weird skin. No wrinkles, though he was supposedly in his mid-thirties, but his face wasn’t what you’d call smooth, either--it was shiny and flabby and artificial-looking.... Frank’s cheek was cold and felt like the silicone they use in diving masks.” There are new places springing up where men stand in line for a chance to talk to teenage girls. Good lord who would want to do that!!! Married women are going to clubs to talk to men who are willing to buy them food and drink for a chance to just be with them for a half hour. There are handjobs available. There are blowjobs available. There are places where you felt as if the dirt and grease and dead skin of all the previous horny, lonely customers were rubbing off on you. Frank seems to want to do it all and he wants Kenji with him every step of the way. Frank is starting to freak him out. When the body of a young Japanese girl is found horribly murdered Kenji can’t help but think that Frank was somehow involved even though he has no proof and no reason to think that he was except that Frank is getting weirder and weirder the longer Kenji knows him. This is a short book, but Ryu Murakami shows a great deal of patience with the plot. He lets the tension build like one of the better Alfred Hitchcock films. There are wonderful thoughtful observations about contemporary Japanese culture and even some unexpected levity. Some of the humor comes at those points, vintage Murakami, where you laugh and feel immediately guilty that you laughed at something so horrible. Ryu Murakami This is certainly not as uncomfortable to read as Almost Transparent Blue. The violence though graphic, Murakami knows no other kind, is contained to one scene and by the time it happens I’m already starting to wonder if the bad boy Murakami is going to show up. There is no sex, well plenty on stage left and right, but none on center stage. I know, shocking, especially given the nature of the plot. As Kenji is drawn further and further into circumstances that he couldn’t even imagine finding himself just days before, he scrambles to make his brain engage and either do the right thing or choose to live another day. The struggle is deciding which one. My Almost Transparent Blue review with more thoughts on the works of Ryu Murakami If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jaidee

    4.5 "chilling, existential and misanthropic" stars !!! 9th Favorite Read of 2015 This book was given to me by my partner as I am waiting for Ms. Alice Munro's "Dear Life: Stories." from the library. I was very wary when he gave this to me because I do not like gratuitous violence that leaves one feeling desensitized or empty. This little novel was so much more though. It was a foray into the interactions between a lost young Japanese Man and a middle aged American psychopath so intelligent and cu 4.5 "chilling, existential and misanthropic" stars !!! 9th Favorite Read of 2015 This book was given to me by my partner as I am waiting for Ms. Alice Munro's "Dear Life: Stories." from the library. I was very wary when he gave this to me because I do not like gratuitous violence that leaves one feeling desensitized or empty. This little novel was so much more though. It was a foray into the interactions between a lost young Japanese Man and a middle aged American psychopath so intelligent and cunning as they explore the red light district of Tokyo. The situations were at times hilarious, other times pathetic and at other times brazenly violent. The writing veered from simplistic to intelligent philosophizing with dialogue that was both interesting yet repetitive. This left me with feelings of unease, fear and yet with a dreamlike haziness. I read this in the late spring heat but actually felt chilled even when I read this book in a sun-brightened public park. A dark intelligent little novel that I will not forget even if right now I would like to.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    Recommendation: Read this in one sitting. It's a very quick read with a pacing and construction very much of its own, best experienced without any long breaks. I had the misfortune of taking a break just before a certain, uuhm, "highlight", I guess you could call it, hurting the immersion a bit. What is this book about? Fear. Mostly fear, and how people respond to it. There is a big amount of atmosphere setting as well, which is done brilliantly through the vivid descriptions of Tokyo's red-light Recommendation: Read this in one sitting. It's a very quick read with a pacing and construction very much of its own, best experienced without any long breaks. I had the misfortune of taking a break just before a certain, uuhm, "highlight", I guess you could call it, hurting the immersion a bit. What is this book about? Fear. Mostly fear, and how people respond to it. There is a big amount of atmosphere setting as well, which is done brilliantly through the vivid descriptions of Tokyo's red-light districts and its dwellers, as well as through poignant remarks on society, American and Japanese alike. The author uses this thriller not only to strike fear into readers' hearts, but to make them think on societal values and habits, such as our different ways of communication, the obsession with consumption and image-building, the great escape from Loneliness Prison where the only tool some people seem to get is the social equivalent of a plastic spoon. Japan, and Tokyo in particular, has always been an inspiring setting to me, ever since seeing the movie "Lost in Translation" and visiting the country myself. There's a beautiful melancholy surrounding it all, a dreaminess with a dystopian touch, and this book further confirmed and built on those feelings for Tokyo that reside within me. I don't claim to "know" Tokyo and I don't wish to pretend these feelings are in some way an opinion I can validate with strong facts, but the feelings are definitely there, and very strong. I recently came across a series of pictures that perfectly show the setting that has been painted by Ryu Murakami in words. Of course, everyone is entitled to visualizing it in their own way, but for the curious: check out the spoiler below. (view spoiler)[ More pictures, taken by Masashi Wakui, can be found here: Tokyo's greasy underbelly (hide spoiler)] The book is divided into the "before", the "Event" and the "after", more or less, so I'll organise this review accordingly. I try to avoid spoilers but if you want to make really sure it might be best to not read my thoughts on the "after". Before The "before" is the best part of the story for me. The tension building is extremely well done, and you feel as if you're in Tokyo from page one. Kenji, a sex tourist guide, offers the main perspective in this book. The writing is done so well it's sometimes difficult not to feel like the sex tourist making use of his guidance. Just to say that this is a very immersive narrative. I learned a lot about how things are done under Tokyo's Neon Lights, and I have to say it's interesting and captivating to say the least. A whole new world opened up to me, and even though I'm glad to close that door again, it's been an illuminating experience. The atmosphere surrounding Frank, the American tourist who has hired Kenji, is supremely well done. Is he dangerous? Or is Kenji jumping to conclusions and overreacting? The line between those two feelings is very delicately made and I found myself crossing it in either direction plenty of times. Frank throws lines of lies, seemingly daring you to catch one, and God knows what he'll reel you into once you do. Maybe a warm, loving hug? But maybe not. Dangerous or not, Frank IS scary. And he's the kind of scary that hits home, because I'm certain that I have met people like the Frank described here. There was actually a particular person I could clearly picture when reading about Frank, making the immersion all the more intense, also because Kenji's reactions to him completely coincided with how mine would be. A sidenote: The "before" starts off with some politically incorrect statements, on homosexuals and Americans in particular. While I don't agree with these statements and don't even find them very funny, I'm not one to use "political correctness" as a yardstick for judging books. I hate the concept too much for that. Anyway, I don't want to make this review the source of the kind of discussions you find all over the Internet already. I just mentioned them because I think they've been thrown in there, early in the book, to dissuade the faint of heart. Because let met tell you, THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! On to... The Event No comment here, apart from the fact that the capitalized "E" in Event is supposed to be there. It's quite something. Make sure you're not eating at the time, especially not miso soup or anything fluid and hot and with bits floating in them. It's shockingly colourful. After That's where the book lost one star for me, but it's still very good. It just got harder for me to relate to one of the main characters. He's in a state of shock, obviously, and that feeling of loss of where his head is at is very elegantly described, but the rupture between the character's mind and actions made it harder for me to feel related to him on both counts. Here I have to come back to the recommendation I started this review with: Read it in one go. Maybe I wasn't shocked enough as a reader after reading the Event because I kind of jumped right into it instead of staying in the flow the build-up created so well. This made this last part more difficult to be affected by. I think. I don't know. But something went wrong there. Aside from that, this story is well rounded-off. (view spoiler)[There's insights into the why's of the Event, but with the "buts" as well. Questions of manipulation and intimidation remain present, and while the character who felt lost seems to have found his way again, you don't get the feeling his story of coping is really over. Neither whether his story of running away in fear is. The blank pages at the end seem to indicate that as well. This story is far from over and continues to live on in the reader's head. (hide spoiler)] In the end, the thought that struck me was: a swan has more than one feather. In order to get that reference you'll have to read the book, something I can recommend to you as long as you're not the type that's sensitive to explicit violence. This book definitely has way more to offer than that violence, but malignity is an integral part of the story, which is something you probably need to be aware of before reading this very entertaining novel.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marvin

    Reading this novel is like going to McDonald, buying a Big Mac and finding a severed eyeball under the bun....Then putting the bun back on and eating it, eyeball and all. What starts out as a sleazy, guilty pleasure of a pulp novel about an American tourist and his guide visiting the Tokyo pleasure palaces turns into a soup broth of over-the-top violence and nutty serial killer philosophy that makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem like the boy next door. Yet In The Miso Soup remains riveting throughout its Reading this novel is like going to McDonald, buying a Big Mac and finding a severed eyeball under the bun....Then putting the bun back on and eating it, eyeball and all. What starts out as a sleazy, guilty pleasure of a pulp novel about an American tourist and his guide visiting the Tokyo pleasure palaces turns into a soup broth of over-the-top violence and nutty serial killer philosophy that makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem like the boy next door. Yet In The Miso Soup remains riveting throughout its strange tale. Aside from the gruesome story, there is a American Psycho styled look at the edge of society that Murakami is focusing on. He questions the way our society chases sex and pleasure and wonders about the harm that it does to the human psyche. There is also much about the differences and conflicts between Eastern and Western culture. Some of the passages are immensely disturbing in its casualness, such as this remark by a boy who likes to work in Tokyo's sex district. Hey, I wouldn't say I love Kabuchi-ko - I mean I doubt if anyone loves it - but it's an amazingly easy place to be, and who's going to think about sticking needles into little girls eyes when they're working in a town they like and have a chance to go to the university of their choice." and it gets scarier. So obviously this is not for everyone. But I have an uncomfortable admiration for the way the author tells a unrelenting suspenseful story and the way he makes you think about the psychological questions of good and evil nagging throughout the book. Recommended for those with strong stomachs.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    What the hell did I just read? Digesting.......Ok, I swallowed it.Are you ready to read something REEEALLY weird? Check out these two quotes: "Killing people has always been absolutely essential for me to go on living." "I'm a man who consciously commits murders and scares the hell out of people and makes them reconsider everything, so I'm definitely malignant, yet I think I play a necessary role in this world." In this weird-ass story, there is one weird-ass creepy American businessman/tourist What the hell did I just read? Digesting.......Ok, I swallowed it.Are you ready to read something REEEALLY weird? Check out these two quotes: "Killing people has always been absolutely essential for me to go on living." "I'm a man who consciously commits murders and scares the hell out of people and makes them reconsider everything, so I'm definitely malignant, yet I think I play a necessary role in this world." In this weird-ass story, there is one weird-ass creepy American businessman/tourist named Frank (we think) who hires an almost legal Japanese tour guide named Kenji to show him around Tokyo's sleazy nightlife. With a serial killer on the loose and fabrications galore, Kenji soon suspects Freaky Frank and begins to fear for his life.Filled with graphic gore, violence and much theoretical comparison between the cultures of America and Japan, this shocking work of fiction is not for everyone. (including me?) Super weird!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Another Murakami? I thought you didn't like the Wind Up Bird thing. This is a different guy. It must be like Smith or Patel over there. Two stars? Not that good then? Well... nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnot really, but.... ....yes? It could have been. He lumbered himself with this boring serial killer oooh oooh Frank Booth-in-Blue Velvet nutcase when he should - in your humble opinion! - yes, yes, all this stuff in my HUMBLE opinion, I'm not the arbiter of recentish Japanese novels, I've read exactly three - - all Another Murakami? I thought you didn't like the Wind Up Bird thing. This is a different guy. It must be like Smith or Patel over there. Two stars? Not that good then? Well... nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnot really, but.... ....yes? It could have been. He lumbered himself with this boring serial killer oooh oooh Frank Booth-in-Blue Velvet nutcase when he should - in your humble opinion! - yes, yes, all this stuff in my HUMBLE opinion, I'm not the arbiter of recentish Japanese novels, I've read exactly three - - all right, no need to get ratty - - I'm just saying that this particular Murakami was hovering all the time over some really interesting questions about Japanese society such as the idea of high school girls and "compensated dating" - What? Exactly - these girls are not exactly on the game but they go on "dates" with older guys and get the guys buy them stuff, this little novel mentions various phenomena of the sex trade like that, and his protagonist muses on why in such an affluent country girls would do that, it's not like they're short of a bob or two, these are not skanky crack-heads. The blurb says this is all about loneliness. Yes, it could have been a meditation on Japanese loneliness through the prism of the Tokyo sex-trade. That would have been interesting. Sounds like one of your crap art house movies. Thanks. Hey, I sat though enough of those. What was that last one? L'Humanite? and the one before that? Lourdes? I mean, OMG. Paint dries faster than those movies. Did you know they're called motion pictures for a reason? Like, there's supposed to be motion in them, as opposed to some loser staring into space for like two hours that felt like six hours? I bet an entire galactic civilisation rose and fell while I was watching that one. Er, we're drifting away from the topic here. But when I want to go and see something normal at Cineworld, it's oh no, look at these reviews and blah blah... what's wrong with 3D anyway? Too many Ds for you? Er, this is still just light-hearted banter isn't it? Oh yes. Just banter. It gives me a headache. What? 3D. Oh. Right.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kiekiat

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 'In the Miso Soup,' by Japanese novelist Ryu Murakami (no relation to the more famous Murakami) is a short 217-page read. Some GR reviewers described it as a "one-sitting" read, but it took me 3 days because I'm such a slow reader. Gone are the days when I could read 200 pages of a literary classic in a day. Even in those halcyon (Triazolam?) times, 200 pages for a full day's read was only a pace of about 20 pages per hour, far from the average 60 pages an hour the average reader can consume. 'Mi 'In the Miso Soup,' by Japanese novelist Ryu Murakami (no relation to the more famous Murakami) is a short 217-page read. Some GR reviewers described it as a "one-sitting" read, but it took me 3 days because I'm such a slow reader. Gone are the days when I could read 200 pages of a literary classic in a day. Even in those halcyon (Triazolam?) times, 200 pages for a full day's read was only a pace of about 20 pages per hour, far from the average 60 pages an hour the average reader can consume. 'Miso Soup' is one of those genre-fiction novels that succeeds as a work containing some philosophical and social observations intertwined with a story involving extreme violence and many moments of suspense and tension. The late Roberto Bolano wrote an essay deriding the snobbery of many readers in relegating what they termed "genre fiction" into a scrap heap of short-lived diversions, read and forgotten, offering no "truths" about the bigger issues that puzzle and confront readers of "serious" fiction. This is a topic that could stir up an acrimonious debate among readers, but I would put Ryu Murakami in that class of "genre" fiction writers whom Bolano was describing--a writer of sometimes disturbing tales interspersed with insights about important social issues. The scenario of 'In the Miso Soup' is set in Kabuki-cho, one of Tokyo's sex worker districts where foreigners are allowed. Most of the female and transgender workers there are down-at-heel and have seen better days. Though the book doesn't use the term, in Japan an unwed girl over age 25 is known as "Christmas cake," meaning her "sell by" date has passed. Kenji is a twenty-year-old Japanese living in Tokyo and self-employed as a guide for foreign sex tourists seeking sexual pleasure in what the Japanese used to call, "the water trade." He advertises his services in a sleazy rag catering to foreign male tourists who want to sample Tokyo's "sex industry." Most of his customers in the two years he's been been a Virgil to gaijin sex tourists are middle-aged Americans. Kenji leads a life in the shadows and the best part of his existence is his relationship with his girlfriend, Jun. Jun is still in high school but spends a lot of time with Kenji and they clearly have a close bond. Kenji has few aspirations other than to save up enough money to one day move to America, a goal he seems to realize will never happen. Murakami uses Japan's huge sex industry to point out the loneliness and isolation many feel in Japanese society. Kenji notes that in the past, most "sex tourists" were older men but that now the clubs are routinely patronized by decrepit salary men and handsome, well-heeled young Japanese who prefer paid sex and carousing to having a girlfriend. In some clubs, the desperate middle-aged guys queue up in long lines just for the chance to chat with teenage girls. And some teenage girls work the seamy areas as "paid companions," earning yen by dating older men, the implication being that both the girls and the men are lonely. Kenji's life changes when he gets involved with his new client who calls himself Frank. Frank bears some resemblance to his movie namesake, Frank Booth, as played by Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet." Frank is American, or claims to be, and is one of the most bizarre characters I've come across in a work of fiction--bearing in mind that I'm not a reader of the horror or "weird" genre literature. I'm sure among some characters in those genres he would be pretty run-of-the-mill.. Kenji immediately gets a creepy vibe from Frank, noticing that his skin looks synthetic and is cold to the touch and his back story seems suspect and implausible. Frank claims to be from New York and says he imports Toyota radiators. It is near New Year's Day in Japan, a very special time akin to Christmas in the US. Frank claims he just wrapped up some business that day, which Kenji finds suspicious since few Japanese business people would be working so close to the holiday. Kenji's first night with Frank brings Frank's menace and overall strangeness into more focus. Kenji has guided over 200 foreign men through Tokyo's low-rent sex district, but never anyone like Frank. Here's a quote from the novel of Kenji's impressions: "All Americans have something lonely about them . . .but Frank had taken it to a whole new level. There was a falseness about him, as if his whole existence was somehow made up." This "falseness" comes across in Frank's many incongruities. He meets Kenji in a cheap hotel that a "rich" American businessman is unlikely to stay in. He's dressed in a cheap suit but has plenty of money, and as the evening progresses his stories about his past life contradict one another and Frank doesn't seem to care if they do. At one point, for example, he tells Kenji he grew up playing baseball with his brother; at another point he says he was the only male child and had many sisters. Frank also appears to hide a dangerously bad temper beneath an affable veneer. Kenji notices that when situations don't go his way, or people annoy him, he almost transmutes into a totally different-looking person and an evil look appears on his face until Kenji uses his tact to mollify him. As the first night progresses, Kenji begins to suspect that Frank is quite possibly a killer. Before coming to work that night, Kenji had listened to a news report of a young prostitute's body being found the previous night in Kabuki-cho, and that police were investigating the death as a murder. He and Frank coincidentally pass by the yellow tape marking off the crime scene and Kenji gets an eerie feeling that maybe Frank had something to do with the murder and maybe their passing by the scene wasn't really coincidental. Kenji and Frank visit a lingerie club and chat up a few girls. Kenji's suspicions mount when Frank pays a check with a 10,000 Yen bill that has a bloodstained thumbprint in the middle, or at least the stain LOOKS like blood. Murakami does a good job of building suspicion and tension. Frank continues to reveal new sides as he discourses intelligently on a great many subjects. Next stop is a peep show where the girl is shown naked and the customer (male) can stick his penis in a hole and be "handled." Frank shows no signs of pleasure after the visit and the night becomes stranger when he and Kenji end up at a batting cage somewhere in the neighborhood. The night is cold and, nearby, a homeless man lies on a piece of cardboard trying to keep warm. Kenji and Frank both take turns at bat and Frank, supposedly a former player, makes a fool of himself and stands with the bat in odd positions as a baseball whizzes at him at 100 km per hour. Kenji returns home exhausted and Jun is at his place to greet him. He shares his suspicions about Frank. The next morning, he wakes to find what appears to be a piece of flesh glued to his door handle. He's not sure it's a piece of flesh, but it sure looks like it. This creeps him out even more because he's pretty sure the flesh is a less-than-subtle message from Frank that he knows where Kenji lives and that Frank wants to let him know he's a killer. Meanwhile, the morning news reports a homeless found was found dead in the bathroom of a park close by the batting range where Kenji and Frank had ended their first night. Kenji is pretty sure that Frank killed some homeless man, if not the one they saw. On the second night, Frank declaims that he "wants sex," so Kenji takes him to a club where a lot of working girls go and they sit at tables across from the men and guys can write notes to them asking if they want to have a drink and get to know each other better. Since Kenji is there as a paying customer, he is also expected to write a note to try and woo a woman. They choose a couple of ladies who agree to join them at their table. Frank quickly becomes irritated when his companion says the wants to visit America to see, "Niketown," a now closed Nike "superstore" that was on E. 57th Street in New York. Being (or claiming to be) a New Yorker, Frank has never heard of Niketown and is offended by the woman's crass materialism and launches into a diatribe about crass consumerism and berates the woman for her shallowness. Clearly his ire has risen. Then he lets Kenji see behind his menacing facade to the real monster he is, doing this by demanding Kenji leave the club. He then proceeds to slice and dice all the ladies in the club and burns the face off the club's manager. He then lets Kenji back in to see the carnage. The rest of the novel involves the tension and suspense Kenji in the interplay between Kenji and Frank, as Kenji is pretty certain Frank is going to kill him. Every New Year's Eve in Japan, temple bells all over the country chime 108 times in a ceremony having to do with their godless Buddhist religion, with the 108 bells representing the 108 fleshly desires of humans. Listening to the bells is suppose to absolve the listener of past year's sins. Frank, perhaps in some twisted expiation, wants to hear the bells and gets the scoop from Kenji on the best location for listening. Kenji calls Jun and tells her to be waiting for him on the bridge he has recommended for hearing the bells. He advises her that Frank IS a killer and that if she cannot spot him on the bridge, to scream for the police. Kenji and Frank then traipse around with Frank pontificating about various topics, including his need to kill. They visit Frank's real hotel, which turns out to be a dilapidated building contaminated with Dioxin, though Frank notes that it is perfectly safe since Dioxin is only harmful when burned. Perhaps in the psychopathic character of Frank, Murakami is making some statement about America? I am hesitant to guess. Kenji and Jun reunite on the bridge as people wait for the bells to chime, and Kenji looks for Frank but he has disappeared into the night. Kenji is unsure why he's been spared but life--for him--will go on.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Like a hot knife through butter this was a quick and easy read over a couple of nights that left me with a seriously uncomfortable and queasy feel, and what it lacked in length was certainly made up for by a foreboding atmosphere of neon noir dread. Set predominantly in the seedy backstreets of night time Tokyo it centers on twenty year old Kenji who works as a sex tour guide for tourists showing them the best strip joints, peep shows and love hotels on offer, for a few nights he is hired by an Like a hot knife through butter this was a quick and easy read over a couple of nights that left me with a seriously uncomfortable and queasy feel, and what it lacked in length was certainly made up for by a foreboding atmosphere of neon noir dread. Set predominantly in the seedy backstreets of night time Tokyo it centers on twenty year old Kenji who works as a sex tour guide for tourists showing them the best strip joints, peep shows and love hotels on offer, for a few nights he is hired by an American called Frank who at first appears just like any other another client, but paranoia and tension slowly starts to grip Kenji as he believes that frank is in fact a psychopathic killer. Through Franks strange and erratic behavior, reports in the news of body parts being discovered in the area and the cold marble eye look in Franks eye, the two of them tour the district with Kenji a nervous wreck fearing some nasty happenings are right around the corner. I feared this would turn out to be your typical slasher/horror novel but it's nothing of the sort really, and is built more on a sense of mood and unease rather than shocks and that's precisely what it delivers, to describe in simple terms it's like the calm before the storm. But be warned there are a few pages of the most sadistic and disturbing violence I have ever come across that I had to go over again just to make sure it's real!, the thing is it didn't really sit in with the rest of the book, yes you always had the feeling that something like this was going to happen but when it finally does it sort of spoils the not knowing aspect where the strength of the story lies. Also, sounds odd but one thing I will credit Murakami for is you actually start to feel quite sad and take pity for all involved, as there are themes of loneliness, isolation, lack of identity and mental illness that make this far more emotional than your average shocker. Of course it will probably always be remembered for the nasty stuff, but there is a deeper logic under the surface.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The GR synopsis tells you all you need to know of the plot, so my review is for those who've read that much, and are still on-the-fence about whether to read In The Miso Soup. Consider this review a Ben Franklin checklist from which you can total the scores on each side of your personal reading ledger, and make that call for yourself. But before we get to that, my rating reflects two values that are in tension with one another - writing style, for which In The Miso Soup deserves a 5, and "did the The GR synopsis tells you all you need to know of the plot, so my review is for those who've read that much, and are still on-the-fence about whether to read In The Miso Soup. Consider this review a Ben Franklin checklist from which you can total the scores on each side of your personal reading ledger, and make that call for yourself. But before we get to that, my rating reflects two values that are in tension with one another - writing style, for which In The Miso Soup deserves a 5, and "did the novel work, as a whole", for which In The Miso Soup deserves a 3.5. The 4 stars I gave it - I initially gave it a 3 but bumped it up - reflect that tension. In favor of reading it: 1. In The Miso Soup is unforgettable. In a world of genre novels readers enjoy in the moment and forget within weeks, and classics that we remember but from which we sometimes are distracted or put down after 200 pages, notwithstanding the ensuing guilt, most readers read precious few novels that fall in the middle turf of contemporary literature. (I am uncertain when I read the synopsis of a Reacher novel whether it's one I've read before, because the formula is so constant, and my TBR is full of works I’d like to read some day, but keep pushing off in favor of the immediately accessible.) The tension Murakami creates from page 1 and steadily ratchets up with no humor or other tension-breakers, grabbed me and made it impossible to think about anything but page turns. Almost every page communicates either the high potential for violence, the memory of violence, or . . . violence. In the interest of full disclosure, I needed to put it down and read something else for a couple of evenings because the thought process of one character had eaten into my soul and was bothering me. I can’t think of the last novel that impacted my reality to that extent. 2. Murakami’s characters are authentic. Even those who pass through the novel briefly speak in their own voices, not 8 different versions of Murakami’s voice. (yes, John Green, I mean you.) The reason Frank makes every reader’s skin crawl from the initial moment we meet him is that Murakami makes a monster real, believable, threatening, and capable of anything at any moment. The reason the various female characters work as characters is that they are not archetypes, but reflect their experiences, their ages, their backgrounds. 3. The plot is focused. It takes place over a 3-day period and, like Poe, Murakami doesn’t waste any words on anything that doesn’t drive his story to its conclusion. 4. Japanese culture/history. In The Miso Soup provides a brief window into a contemporary part of Tokyo, awareness of the nightlife culture, compensated dating, the relationship between Japanese and foreign tourists, and our somewhat lost protagonist, Kenji – a nice enough young man, going nowhere in terms of his career and goals. 5. This. Men like him, managers of soaplands and Chinese clubs and S&M clubs, not to mention gigolos and pimps – men who eke out a living exploiting women’s bodies – all have one characteristic in common: they look as if something has eroded away inside them. . . . I saw a news report on North Korea. It was about how people were starving there, and they had shots of some of the children. And in the faces of those skinny, dying kids was the same whatever-it-is that you see in the faces of men who live off the traffic of women’s bodies. and this. She wanted to find out about the gods of this country, but she couldn’t find any books on the subject in Spanish, and she doesn’t read English, so she asked a lot of her customers, but apparently none of the Japanese knew anything, which made her wonder if people here never came up against the kind of suffering where you can’t do anything but turn to your god for help. . . and then this. The Japanese had never experienced having their land taken over by another ethnic group or been slaughtered or driven out as refugees – because even in World War II the battlefields were mostly in China and Southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific, and then Okinawa of course, but on the mainland there were only air raids and the big bombs – so the people at home never came to face to face with an enemy who killed and raped their relatives and forced them all to speak a new wlanguage. A history of being invaded and assimilated is the one thing most countries in Europe and the New World have in common, so it’s like a basis for international undersanding. But people in this country don’t know how to relate to outsiders because they haven’t had any real contact with them. That’s why they are so insular. According to the Lebanese man, Japan’s just about the only country in the world that’s been untouched, except for the U.S. But he said of course there’s a bright side to that too and started telling her about [] saying that precisely because the Japanese have never experienced a real invasion, there’s a certain gentleness here you can’t find in other countries, and that they’ve come up with these incredible methods of healing. Don’t read it: • After a climactic scene midway through, In The Miso Soup lost a little steam and didn’t seem as sure of where it was headed. The ending is fine, as far as it goes, and in fact I had a sense that Murakami almost wanted to get that scene out of the way in order to focus on Kenji and Frank discussing violence with all of Frank’s cards on the table, so to speak. But no matter how well-written a conversation or dialogue is (excluding The Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov), if it is extended, the intensity and pace slows. Still, slowed intensity in this context means, you were driving 200 mph on the Autobahn for a few hours and now you’re only going 110 mph on 6-lane US highway. In the Miso Soup is less than 200 pages. It’s not as if it’s a major time-commitment. • If you wish you hadn’t read The Silence of the Lambs because it bothered you, you are likely to regret even holding this novel in your hand. • Finally, if you were horrified by the underlying crime and perspective described in The Dinner by Herman Koch, there’s a similar thread here. As you can tell, if you've read other reviews of In The Miso Soup, it's difficult to recommend because of its subject matter and impact on the reader, except with a ton of disclaimers. That's my excuse for the length of this review. I recommend it highly, but it's not for the unwary, to be certain.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bark

    Kenji is a young guy who makes his money by giving visitors of a certain umm, ilk, shall we say, tours of Tokyo’s sex industry. His latest client is a chubby American named Frank. Frank wants to see all the sights and have all the sex, all of which is nothing unusual, but Kenji quickly realizes there is something a bit “off” about dead-eyed Frank. And it’s probably not a coincidence that dead bodies start turning up as soon as Frank comes to visit . . . Night one is slightly strange but when Ken Kenji is a young guy who makes his money by giving visitors of a certain umm, ilk, shall we say, tours of Tokyo’s sex industry. His latest client is a chubby American named Frank. Frank wants to see all the sights and have all the sex, all of which is nothing unusual, but Kenji quickly realizes there is something a bit “off” about dead-eyed Frank. And it’s probably not a coincidence that dead bodies start turning up as soon as Frank comes to visit . . . Night one is slightly strange but when Kenji finds what he thinks is a piece of flesh (arggg!) on his property, he knows it came from that weirdo Frank. But he’s promised him three evenings and, hell, a buck is a buck, right? Sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it? I mean, how could you go wrong with seedy sex clubs and a serial killer on the loose? How could that story possibly bore even the most jaded of readers nearly to death? But for some reason things went wrong. The first half was deadly dull. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. Frank, who claims to be missing a bit of his brain (lobotomy, perhaps?), stares into space for eternities and Kenji mostly muses to himself on the state of people in the sex trade industry and worries about being late to visit his girlfriend. They club hop and have a few tedious conversations and Kenji muses on the reasons why wealthy young girls decide to become “compensated dates”. Things get vaguely exciting when Kenji finds that itty bitty ominous patch of flesh but that’s the only intriguing thing that happened for pages on end. I also felt disconnected from the prose and the characters and, I cannot lie, I pretty much sleepwalked through many of the pages. When the action finally started, it woke me up with its shocking detail but then it all became an exercise in frustration because it sucked all of the potential thrill and mystery straight out of the story. I really think that chapter should’ve been nearer to the end of the book. Also none of the questions about character motivation I had while reading (and, oh boy, did I have many) were answered and that annoyed me more than words can say. Basically I never felt any sense of dread or fear or anxiety or anything but a little bit of boredom for nearly the entire novel. I’m glad it was short because, meh, it was so disappointing. Most everyone likes this book except for me. I’m beginning to think I need to give up reading and pick up a new hobby. If you’re interested in reading a book about the desperation and darkest corners of Tokyo I’d recommend reading Out by Natsuo Kirino instead of this one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This is probably the most mixed I've felt about any of the books we've read so far for the Year of Horror Book Club. I enjoyed the 1st and middle portions of the book (dear god the middle!!!), but the last portion left me feeling a bit empty. It's a strange, gory, little book, and I do think it's worth a quick read. Full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZk3q...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    This is an ugly book full of ugly things. Ryu Murakami had a story to tell and he wasn't going to flinch from the hard parts. Certain sections are unbelievable, but what he does get right he nails. I was affected by this on a deep level. I've long been desensitized to brutal violence, so it takes a special brand of horror to disturb me. Murakami did just that. I cannot speak to how well written the novel is because I don't read Japanese, therefore I cannot give credit to Murakami as a writer. I This is an ugly book full of ugly things. Ryu Murakami had a story to tell and he wasn't going to flinch from the hard parts. Certain sections are unbelievable, but what he does get right he nails. I was affected by this on a deep level. I've long been desensitized to brutal violence, so it takes a special brand of horror to disturb me. Murakami did just that. I cannot speak to how well written the novel is because I don't read Japanese, therefore I cannot give credit to Murakami as a writer. I can say that the translator did a serviceable job, but the amount of typos and missing words did distract, especially since this isn't an indie published book. All that means is, when I read indies, I expect errors. I don't condone them, but I expect them. Penguin published this one. It should have been cleaner. The relationship between Kenji and Frank is an interesting one, but I felt that the violence was set aside from this odd friendship. There's a scene in here that exists in a bubble. It doesn't fit with the rest of the story. That being said, it's some nasty shit. There's this movie floating around that you might have heard of called A Serbian Film. I've seen that and thought it was pretty goddamn irredeemable and reprehensible. The director says it's a metaphor for the violence in Serbia. Whatever, Mr. Director Dude. I don't see how a new-born infant being raped could possibly be a metaphor for anything, but more power to you and your "art". But, while there is not infant rape in this book, there is a scene that describes brutality in such simplistic language that I instantly wished I hadn't read it. This scene might not affect you as much as it affected me. This is my experience only. Now I'm off to make some miso soup to see what all the fuss is about. Oh, lookey here, there's a recipe in this cookbook I recently reviewed. Yay! In summation: If you read this, prepare yourself for some vile content and more than a handful of typos and missing words. I can't really recommend it, but if you like being disgusted, go for it. Final Judgment: The fuck did I just read? Spoiler Discussion: Wherein I spoil the scene that bothered me so badly:(view spoiler)[ Hey. Yeah, so I guess you wanna know what got to me. Here you go. There's a scene in here where a woman has her throat cut. Then her pants and panties are ripped off to reveal a string dangling from her vagina, which the author describes as seemingly breathing. The killer then slices off the ears of another victim, this one a male, and proceeds to stuff the ear into the woman's vagina. It won't go in. The narrator tells the killer that the woman has in a tampon. The killer removes the tampon, rolls up the ear, and stuffs the ear into the dying woman's vagina. That fucked me all up. Probably not the sickest thing I've read, but the way it was written, in such a nonchalant manner, really bothered me. See you next time. (hide spoiler)]

  13. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    Sometimes you read a book and it feels so uncannily like it was waiting for you, it's like you've read it before and loved it for years, like you're returning to an old favourite. I began reading In the Miso Soup the moment I received it in the post and extracted it from its envelope, and I just couldn't stop. With this book, I even experienced a genuine episode of that fabled cliche: almost missing my stop on the train because I was so completely absorbed in the story. Kenji is a tour guide who Sometimes you read a book and it feels so uncannily like it was waiting for you, it's like you've read it before and loved it for years, like you're returning to an old favourite. I began reading In the Miso Soup the moment I received it in the post and extracted it from its envelope, and I just couldn't stop. With this book, I even experienced a genuine episode of that fabled cliche: almost missing my stop on the train because I was so completely absorbed in the story. Kenji is a tour guide who specialises in helping foreign tourists navigate sex clubs and brothels. This is what makes him appealing to Frank, a boorish, seemingly clueless American who's spending New Year in Tokyo. From their first meeting, Kenji finds Frank disturbing. In a detail that contributes to the feverish and claustrophobic ambience of the novel, a gruesome murder has recently taken place in Kenji's neighbourhood – the victim a teenage girl, the killer unidentified. His idea that Frank is responsible initially seems like a product of paranoia and grim humour, a horrible, outlandish joke. As Frank's stories and behaviour become increasingly bizarre, it all starts to seem frighteningly plausible, yet Kenji can't seem to tear himself away. I unequivocally loved everything about this. The neo(n)-noir setting of Kabuki-cho, intensely visual in its lucidity. The way Murakami evokes the experience of navigating a familiar place alongside a stranger. The sheer weirdness of Frank: the waxy, inhuman sheen of his skin; the creepiness of the inconsistencies in his storytelling; the scene in which he talks about having had a lobotomy and you don't know which possibility is more frightening – that it's the truth or that he's making it up. That part when Kenji and Jun exit the apartment and there's something stuck to the door – it's utterly flawless, atmospherically sublime, tense, strange. The brevity of the book is ideal, the pacing excellent. It's so focused and concise. The funny thing is, In the Miso Soup doesn't make me want to read more by Ryū Murakami. I feel like this was such a perfect collision of book and reader that it couldn't possibly be replicated. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Vacca

    I’ve always thought there was something to be said about the strange fascination that American and Japanese culture share with one another. Maybe one of my peers, guilty too of shamelessly mythologizing the East (since we Americans are without the millennial long view of a mythology, or rather what myths there were to be had those first settlers rubbed out with the natives) will put together the defining treatise on the matter. If so in my lifetime, then that author already has themselves one re I’ve always thought there was something to be said about the strange fascination that American and Japanese culture share with one another. Maybe one of my peers, guilty too of shamelessly mythologizing the East (since we Americans are without the millennial long view of a mythology, or rather what myths there were to be had those first settlers rubbed out with the natives) will put together the defining treatise on the matter. If so in my lifetime, then that author already has themselves one reader. In the Miso Soup doesn’t try to answer exactly how this strange affinity developed between past mortal enemies (one a venerable empire of humorless familial phantoms, warrior poets, and opaque sensibilities; the other an adolescent power of loud and brash tough guys), but instead broods on the theme of loneliness and how this may be the very thing that makes the two cultures such unexpected kindred spirits. How Murakami goes about this is completely his own idiosyncratic way: a fat, vulgar American tourist (with plastic skin) hires a street-savvy but thoughtful Tokyo youth to take him on a safari through the sleazy sex trade pocketed within the nation’s capital city. Our narrator, the Japanese youth, quickly realizes that something is terribly off with his American charge, but the lure of monetary gain muffles his worries, and soon the pair are off on a hellish weekend of sightseeing involving cheap sex, black magic, and mass carnage. But despite its sordid trappings and the extended sequence of brutality which rests in the book’s middle like a Cadbury egg filled with flesh, atrial blood and gristle; the novel uses its grindhouse thriller set-up as vehicle to get our demonic American and hapless Japanese into an extended, bullshit-free conversation about alienation and how that awful bugbear follows you no matter how long you live or how far away from home you run. While not exactly a satire, elements of acerbic irony and disgust purveys this short novel as Murakami condemns his own country for its isolationism, its obsession with consumerism, and its cheapening of the human body. America remains an alluring yet horrifying abstraction throughout the novel, even though the device of an obese, obnoxious American psychopath would have made for an amusing, albeit cheap, satiric device. But a surreal, philosophic slowdown of a last act makes this book a standout as an engaging work by an original talent from our sister nation on the other side of the Pacific.

  15. 4 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine

    Ok, this is the last Japanese book I'm reading for a while. Fuck me, this had me emailing my brother who lived in Japan for a year, asking him what the fuck is wrong with Japanese writers. His answer? Japan is all twisted, that's why I love it. Heh. Although this book offered much more insight into Japanese culture than Kirino's Out: A Novel, while also giving thoughtful and poignant perspectives on American culture, I just can't stand this bloodbath shit that's popped up in both of these novel Ok, this is the last Japanese book I'm reading for a while. Fuck me, this had me emailing my brother who lived in Japan for a year, asking him what the fuck is wrong with Japanese writers. His answer? Japan is all twisted, that's why I love it. Heh. Although this book offered much more insight into Japanese culture than Kirino's Out: A Novel, while also giving thoughtful and poignant perspectives on American culture, I just can't stand this bloodbath shit that's popped up in both of these novels, along with high school girls selling themselves, bodies being hacked up and thrown away in the local trash bins, designer brands sported by chicks who are moments away from having their throats slit in graphic detail, etc. That's not to say that the book isn't well-written. It is an extremely interesting psychological portrait of mankind, examining the human consequences of loneliness in both Japanese and American societies. And it gave me anxiety to the point that I was either going to puke or have to pop a Xanax. Signs of an excellent writer. The following is one of my favorite passages, not only because I've felt this way a long time about Americans, but also because it highlights the one of the greatest underlying themes of this book: "Nobody, I don't care what country they're from, has a perfect personality. Everyone has a good side and a side that's not so good .... What's good about Americans, if I can generalize a little, is that they have a kind of openhearted innocence. And what's not good is that they can't imagine any world outside of the States, or any value system different from their own. The Japanese have a similar defect..." Read this book if you want to be entertained and learn about Japan, but be prepared for gore and psychological drama.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Konstantin

    Sleazy, overhyped and ineffectively dramatic. I felt like the violence and the long 'flashback' served no real purpose. This didn't lean either into philosophical and metaphorical area (many of the characterizations are lazy) nor into the graphic horror one (I felt like I could've blinked and missed the violent part; it reads exactly like what it is - a middle-aged man's weird sexual fantasy). I do appreciate what Murakami tried to show with this novel and how many themes he incorporated, as well Sleazy, overhyped and ineffectively dramatic. I felt like the violence and the long 'flashback' served no real purpose. This didn't lean either into philosophical and metaphorical area (many of the characterizations are lazy) nor into the graphic horror one (I felt like I could've blinked and missed the violent part; it reads exactly like what it is - a middle-aged man's weird sexual fantasy). I do appreciate what Murakami tried to show with this novel and how many themes he incorporated, as well as what kind of a bar it set for writers of the genre - Japan and elsewhere, but I think that I've just consumed too many of its pastiches (and just genuinely similar novels) that by this point I've seen it all before - and done better, as well. The blurbs promised me a "neon noir thought-piece" , yet I felt all of those aspects were lacking. Neither the descriptions nor the aesthetics felt vibrant; and setting up an atmosphere in my point of view requires more than "we walked down a dark, narrow alley". For a good character study with bits of sexual-oriented gore and violence, I wholeheartedly recommend Peach by Emma Glass.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Supreeth

    In the Miso soup is a spit in the face on great American obsession of the east/Japan. There's this subtle angst all over the place which stays with you for a long time . This was creepy in all levels. That ear/hypnotism thing might be the creepiest, random-est thing I've ever read. If you're willing to explore Ryu Murakami/ Japanese transgressive fiction, this is where you start.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yulia

    In the Miso Soup follows the 20-year-old tour guide Kenji in the nights leading up to New Year’s as he shows Japan’s sex district to an American tourist who happens to be a pathological liar and may be responsible for the grisly murder and cutting-up-in-bits of a school-age prostitute (yes, your favorite kind). Unlike other page turners, In the Miso Soup creates a story that never comes at the cost of character. Murakami has an impressive ability to convey individuals through a select number of In the Miso Soup follows the 20-year-old tour guide Kenji in the nights leading up to New Year’s as he shows Japan’s sex district to an American tourist who happens to be a pathological liar and may be responsible for the grisly murder and cutting-up-in-bits of a school-age prostitute (yes, your favorite kind). Unlike other page turners, In the Miso Soup creates a story that never comes at the cost of character. Murakami has an impressive ability to convey individuals through a select number of details, none superfluous or ostentatiously idiosyncratic. Instead, Murakami masterfully presents the subtlety and contradiction even of side characters. Like most narrators written by authors older than the characters they give voice to, Kenji displays insight beyond his years and a keen awareness of and desire to understand those around him without either judging them or making them come across as “types.” While raising important questions about our cultural assumptions and values as well as our consumerism, Kenji is also never caught being pedantic or preachy. How do you do it, Murakami, um, Kenji? And somehow, amid all the tension, it manages to be funny. Even better, unlike Murakami's more recent book, Pierced, this one never made me squeamish or wince. In my opinion, this is by far the strongest of his works and deserves a place alongside the best of the other Murakami.

  19. 5 out of 5

    christa

    "In The Miso Soup" by Ryu Murakami is not the kind of book that you bring home to meet your parents. It is lurid. It is frightening. It is unpredictable. Murakami plucked ordinary words out of nowhere and arranged them into a simple, matter-of-fact horror. Like a smiling child with a box of crayons, humming the Dora the Explorer theme song, then showing you a crudely drawn crime scene with headless chickens and bloody axes and dead parents. It is a delicious read. Kenji has the slightly illegal jo "In The Miso Soup" by Ryu Murakami is not the kind of book that you bring home to meet your parents. It is lurid. It is frightening. It is unpredictable. Murakami plucked ordinary words out of nowhere and arranged them into a simple, matter-of-fact horror. Like a smiling child with a box of crayons, humming the Dora the Explorer theme song, then showing you a crudely drawn crime scene with headless chickens and bloody axes and dead parents. It is a delicious read. Kenji has the slightly illegal job of guiding tourists through Japan's underground night life. He knows where to find peep shows, lap dances, sex, and places where teenage girls are paid to just talk to men. He is hired by Frank, an American, for a three-night job ending on New Year's Eve. Kenji is immediately on alert around his client, who always seems to be lying, who's skin seems cold and plastic, who occasionally gets a dark and violent look in his eyes. The news is filled with the story of a Japanese school girl known for "selling it" who was found dismembered. Kenji's senses that Frank was involved. After their first night together, Kenji wakes to news that a homeless man was found burned to death. And when he leaves his house, Kenji finds a postage-sized stamp of something he believes is charred skin stuck to his door. Frank. This is such a great book. While I always carry a book in my purse, this is the first time in a long time that I pulled it out for quick reads while walking through the skyway and waiting in line at Subway. And when a Jehovah's Witness tried to hand me a pamphlet when I was face deep in the muck, I chuckled and wondered what he would think if he could see the words I was reading at that moment. There is a full-on mass murder scene midway through this book that is written so easily and so visually that I gagged. For instance "... Seeing the throat yawn open like the hood of a car." I love books that affect me physically. Like in "The Gargoyle" when my legs went numb reading about the main character's burning flesh. I guess my favorite genre would have to be "stuff that makes me want to barf." I first read a book by Ryu Murakami when I was taking an international fiction class in college. I remember little from "Almost Transparent Blue" beyond sex, drugs and cockroaches. Although I believe that the cockroaches were actually the cleanest part of that trifecta. I remember being stunned by the book. Liking it, but being shocked. I had never read anything like it and 10 years later it is still stuck in my head. I'm not sure why I never doubled back to read more by Ryu Murakami. That is about to change.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emm - One Thousand Years of Books

    As much of a GIANT SPOILER as the blurb is, still it doesn't really prepare you for In the Miso Soup. Don't confuse this author with Haruki Murakami, or you may be in for a surprise. Their styles are very different, and Ryu Murakami's tends to be much more candid and violent. Surreal and pitch-dark, this novella gets written off as being only about the gore, or even trashy, and it doesn't deserve that. Yes, the graphic scenes are intense (particularly the nauseating omiai pub scene near the end As much of a GIANT SPOILER as the blurb is, still it doesn't really prepare you for In the Miso Soup. Don't confuse this author with Haruki Murakami, or you may be in for a surprise. Their styles are very different, and Ryu Murakami's tends to be much more candid and violent. Surreal and pitch-dark, this novella gets written off as being only about the gore, or even trashy, and it doesn't deserve that. Yes, the graphic scenes are intense (particularly the nauseating omiai pub scene near the end), but they're only a portion of the story. I think Miso Soup is a harsh criticism of society, Japan's and America's, their relationship with each other, and how they are both different and alike in a sort of social paradox. Especially in the ways that people are becoming more and more alienated from each other in both countries, which rings even more true now than in 1997 when this came out. All of Ryu Murakami's horror stories are a social critique of some kind. Of course, if you're in it for the creepy parts, there is no lack of them, believe me. It's pretty powerfully written for a horror. Kenji's growing paranoia and fear of this bizarre stranger, Frank (if that's even his real name) is all too realistic. Even more so when Frank starts to think of Kenji as a friend. A "friend" whom he can subtly threaten, lie to, and (view spoiler)[kill in front of without worry (hide spoiler)] . Characterization - 5/5 They might be disturbing, but they are believable. Kenji is just an ordinary guy trying to make a living, albeit in a somewhat shady business, but hardly deserving of getting harrassed by a psychopath. Kenji isn't without a dark side of his own, which he is ashamed of whenever it comes to light. "Frank" is a terrifying character. He's so unpredictable and soullessly casual about everything, and he seems alien in mannerism. A really well-done antagonist, and character study on the nature of evil and empathy. Writing and Plotting - 5/5 R. Murakami never writes poorly, that I have read. Some parts are not really thrilling, per se, but not uninteresting either. I feel like if this had been a longer book, it might've dragged, but it's just a bit past 200 pages. Originality - 4.5/5 General Score - 5/5 Content Note - I would definitely not recommend if you are opposed or sensitive to graphic violence or graphic content in general. But if you don't mind that and like an unsettling mystery, give it a try.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    I write novels in my spare time- well, I've written one that's finished, and a pretty decent draft of a second one- you won't get any annoying updates from me though, there's plenty of that abound, and I'll be really careful to find the right audience and not bother anyone else...[1] Okay, it's been said somewhere, good [2]. What's my point though? Well... you can totally write about anything. I know you know this, but ANYTHING. Short stories about an alcoholic teacup. Microscopic space opera. (T I write novels in my spare time- well, I've written one that's finished, and a pretty decent draft of a second one- you won't get any annoying updates from me though, there's plenty of that abound, and I'll be really careful to find the right audience and not bother anyone else...[1] Okay, it's been said somewhere, good [2]. What's my point though? Well... you can totally write about anything. I know you know this, but ANYTHING. Short stories about an alcoholic teacup. Microscopic space opera. (These totally genius ideas are yours for free btw, and if you like them, stay tuned for what I actually chose to write about!) What's my point though? Haha! So you can write about anything, and that's great but also hugely overwhelming somehow, and then you come across a book which is so well put together and with such a clear vision it makes you say "Ah! I know what I want. I want to have written that." That's what I felt when I read Miso Soup. Sure, the cutaways and the drawn-out grander social messages are distracting and unnecessary, but... if only for the mood. If only because... you enter that world, and it's disgusting, dark, pessimistic, but you're not here, you're there, in the paper! And how rare is that? And what a test of good writing that is? What more needs to be said? And more questions? And Murakami pirouettes dangerously near the American Psycho[3] line of what's cool to put in a book, and it's really effective. Plus it's short. So, whatever, read it. [1] Can you tell I'm young and idealistic? How long do you give it, a month? :D [2] Please don't let my reviews be any indication of my writing ability! Or if you like them, do :D [3] Dude, get help.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aiya

    If you cut out about 10 to 20% of this book, my review would probably be higher. In the Miso Soup is the disturbing, paranoid tale of Kenji, whose job is to show tourists looking for the kind of entertainment Tokyo's dirty back streets and sex trade provide. He's been hired by Frank to show him where to have a good time. Kenji is passive, unambitious and kind of annoying. Frank is a monster. The book succeeds in creating a pervasive, inescapable sense of dread, as Kenji becomes more and more conv If you cut out about 10 to 20% of this book, my review would probably be higher. In the Miso Soup is the disturbing, paranoid tale of Kenji, whose job is to show tourists looking for the kind of entertainment Tokyo's dirty back streets and sex trade provide. He's been hired by Frank to show him where to have a good time. Kenji is passive, unambitious and kind of annoying. Frank is a monster. The book succeeds in creating a pervasive, inescapable sense of dread, as Kenji becomes more and more convinced his client is more than just another Western sex tourist. I enjoyed the creepy buildup and the mounting evidence. Where it fails - for me - is in the violence. There were scenes of cruelty and torture so extreme they made me sick to my stomach. Horror is one of my favorite genres. But there's a difference between horror and torture porn. Parts of this book were just that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liv

    Beautifully written, unsettling, disturbing, and unforgettable. Loneliness is a major theme throughout In the Miso Soup. Loneliness of Japanese and American culture is looked at through the eyes of Kenji and Frank - a pair who form an odd, and jarring bond that pulls you into the story. Kenji takes Frank (an American tourist) on a guided tour through Tokyo's nightlife and sex industry, only for Kenji to begin to suspect Frank of murdering a high school student. As per usual with Ryu Murakami, th Beautifully written, unsettling, disturbing, and unforgettable. Loneliness is a major theme throughout In the Miso Soup. Loneliness of Japanese and American culture is looked at through the eyes of Kenji and Frank - a pair who form an odd, and jarring bond that pulls you into the story. Kenji takes Frank (an American tourist) on a guided tour through Tokyo's nightlife and sex industry, only for Kenji to begin to suspect Frank of murdering a high school student. As per usual with Ryu Murakami, there's always one frightfully disturbing scene that makes your skin crawl, and your stomach queazy. This is not a book for those who turn pale at detailed descriptions of violence or sexual violence.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Well, this is not what I expected it to be. I mean if you look at the plot description, it certainly gives you a pretty good clue of what to expect, and yet it absolutely fails to convey the type of novel you are getting into. Think philosophy novel, with a serial killer spin, which gives you both horrific violence and scenes of modernity examined in long conversation. In fact, if you examine the short 217 page count, I would say almost half of it is one really long conversation. It is a fascina Well, this is not what I expected it to be. I mean if you look at the plot description, it certainly gives you a pretty good clue of what to expect, and yet it absolutely fails to convey the type of novel you are getting into. Think philosophy novel, with a serial killer spin, which gives you both horrific violence and scenes of modernity examined in long conversation. In fact, if you examine the short 217 page count, I would say almost half of it is one really long conversation. It is a fascinating conversation, and one you are not meant to agree with, but fascinating in the approach and examination of its subject. The book examines the differences between America and Japan and how the two view each other. While written by a Japanese author, he makes some observations that feel… well, very American from his American characters. He truly does examine some of the aspects of Japanese culture that many Americans are baffled by and he points out that neither he nor his characters can find any way to explain these aspects. They fall into a large category that he sums up as “We think it is cool” and can’t offer any deeper understand, which seems just as baffling to him as his American characters. There’s many thoughtful moments along the way in which he seems to be viewing his own country as an outsider and trying to explain “why” it functions in such a way. This is a book that almost needs to be viewed in metaphoric terms. For example: (view spoiler)[our narrator mentions early on about how aids is considered a “foreigner” disease, and our American psycho Frank is preying on people in the seediest district of town… now what could this possibly be discussing? (hide spoiler)] One thing I have to compliment, Murakami is excellent with his characters’ voices. It doesn’t matter if it is a teenage girl, a serial killer or our lost narrator, everyone has their own unique outlook and voice. Though there isn’t a large cast, many small characters enter the picture and they only feel repetitive when that reinforces the point. I’ve only read one other Ryu Murakami book and that was “Popular Hits of the Showa Era.” I found that one a more enjoyable book, but this was probably the “better” one. I gave the other book a higher rating though as enjoyment counts for points from me. It was a silly ride while still making its point (and for those interested in such things, it was a more violent book, but not as graphic as this one). Both books speak about different aspects of Japan in a dark, almost illogical way, but this one seems more concerned with conveying its point. It is a more literary work, and one I’m glad I experienced, but will likely never want to revisit.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Greg Bates

    Japan is a nation of extremes. Why does one of the richest nations on the planet have citizens who literally work themselves to death? Why do so many well-to-do Japanese teenagers turn to prostitution? How did Japan's intensely polite, buttoned-down society spawn one of the largest, most varied sex industries in the world? In the Miso Soup is a slim volume by Ryu Murakami that tries to grapple with the Big Questions, even as it presents a satisfying mystery. It concerns Kenji, a twenty-something Japan is a nation of extremes. Why does one of the richest nations on the planet have citizens who literally work themselves to death? Why do so many well-to-do Japanese teenagers turn to prostitution? How did Japan's intensely polite, buttoned-down society spawn one of the largest, most varied sex industries in the world? In the Miso Soup is a slim volume by Ryu Murakami that tries to grapple with the Big Questions, even as it presents a satisfying mystery. It concerns Kenji, a twenty-something slacker who's primary source of income is leading foriegn tourists around on sex tours, his specialty being his ability to grease palms and open doors in establishments where gaijin are normally forbidden. It takes place over the three nights he spends with Frank, an exceptionally strange American tourist who he begins to suspect may be behind a string of horrific murders that have occured locally in the last few days. In a novel of extremes, Frank is the living embodiment of Murakami's vision: alternately timid and exhuberant, waffling from an almost disinterest in sex to manic horndog antics, Frank's increasingly bizarre behavior and contradictory stories about America give Kenji ample reason to suspect him of something darker. Is Frank a repressed, partially disabled businessman who desperately wants a friend in Kenji more than he wants cheap sex? Or is he a psychopathic murderer on foreign holiday? (Why can't he be both?) In the Miso Soup is a taut, noir-as-fuck, entertaining as hell look at the underbelly of one of the world's supposedly squeaky-clean cultures and a book that left me thinking big thoughts. Highly recommended. Postscript: a little word of warning; if you couldn't tell from the plot description, this book deals pretty heavily with the Japanese sex industry, so it's pretty explicit. If you're squeamish or if frank depictions of people having weird, vaguely depressing sex offends you, you might want to skip.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    A Tokyo tour guide gets requested for a tour by an American and it seems it's one job he wishes he did not take up as the new year closely approaches. The prose is ordinary, story picks up momentum halfway and theres few pages where things get gory but large part spent in seedy streets and bars of Tokyo. You also get to learn bit about Japanese culture. I felt the end was stopped short that really left me bit disappointed with the story. “Miso soup?” “Yeah. I’m really interested in miso soup. I o A Tokyo tour guide gets requested for a tour by an American and it seems it's one job he wishes he did not take up as the new year closely approaches. The prose is ordinary, story picks up momentum halfway and theres few pages where things get gory but large part spent in seedy streets and bars of Tokyo. You also get to learn bit about Japanese culture. I felt the end was stopped short that really left me bit disappointed with the story. “Miso soup?” “Yeah. I’m really interested in miso soup. I ordered it at a little sushi bar in Colorado once long ago, and I thought it was a darned peculiar kind of soup, the smell it had and everything, so I didn’t eat it, but it intrigued me. It had that funny brown color and smelled kind of like human sweat, but it also looked delicate and refined somehow. I came to this country hoping to find out what the people who eat that soup on a daily basis might be like."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I read this on a Saturday afternoon, mostly wondering: uh, what? and that about sums up my experience with this short tale. Yes, there's one shocking scene, but no, it's not actually that shocking and when I turned the last page, I asked myself: what was the point of this? Not every book needs to have a point, but this, while fairly entertaining, narrated in quite an interesting voice, did not leave a lasting impression, and a few days later, I've already forgotten the main character's name. The p I read this on a Saturday afternoon, mostly wondering: uh, what? and that about sums up my experience with this short tale. Yes, there's one shocking scene, but no, it's not actually that shocking and when I turned the last page, I asked myself: what was the point of this? Not every book needs to have a point, but this, while fairly entertaining, narrated in quite an interesting voice, did not leave a lasting impression, and a few days later, I've already forgotten the main character's name. The pages leading up to that one shocking scene are captivating, afterwards the book loses steam, and it felt like the author did not quite know what to do with it now he'd written the main event. Recommended to readers who enjoy books like American Psycho.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    This is a really interesting thriller. Not at all what I had expected, and the last third definitely saved this book from a lower score. Definitely not for the weak stomached because of extremely graphic violence. This is a book about a Japanese man guiding an American into the seedy underbelly of Japan's commercial district, Shinjuku, also known as Kabukicho and Murakami provides a much more cynical perspective on both Japanese and American cultures than you normally see in Japanese fiction. Mo This is a really interesting thriller. Not at all what I had expected, and the last third definitely saved this book from a lower score. Definitely not for the weak stomached because of extremely graphic violence. This is a book about a Japanese man guiding an American into the seedy underbelly of Japan's commercial district, Shinjuku, also known as Kabukicho and Murakami provides a much more cynical perspective on both Japanese and American cultures than you normally see in Japanese fiction. More than the plot, this novel is really about loneliness, phoniness, and identity (although this is definitely more subtextual than not, so you have to put those pieces together yourself, despite the fact that I'm sure this is Murakami's true message behind the novel).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Estelle

    I remember reading this book many years ago, back when I was living in France. Despite its content, it didn't stop me from moving to Tokyo. "In the Miso Soup" is very graphic, violent, and at times downright scary. The kind of book that makes you want to take a shower after finishing it. That said, I absolutely loved it! The writing is excellent, and the description of Tokyo's red light district (Kabukicho) is still very vivid in my mind. But the real strength of the books lies in the relationshi I remember reading this book many years ago, back when I was living in France. Despite its content, it didn't stop me from moving to Tokyo. "In the Miso Soup" is very graphic, violent, and at times downright scary. The kind of book that makes you want to take a shower after finishing it. That said, I absolutely loved it! The writing is excellent, and the description of Tokyo's red light district (Kabukicho) is still very vivid in my mind. But the real strength of the books lies in the relationship between the two main protagonists: Kenji and Frank and the dialogues. "In the Miso Soup" is a creepy, unforgettable novel and one of my favorites from Ryu Murakami. I keep hoping it will come to the big screen some day.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    So scary, creepy-crawly flesh tingling, ickily real scary. I don't know anyone I would recommend this graphic of book to, but if you like, say, Sin City or gory chop 'em up flicks, this might be the book for you. Be warned, you won't be able to put it down, until you see murders happen behind your eyelids when you aren't even reading . Excellent.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.