Twelve stories from Japan, tales about love, food, relationships, life and death. Sayaka Murata offers a mix of stories that raise questions about how we live, what we consider acceptable and more than once goes beyond the red line of our comfort feeling. It is not always easy to follow the characters, to dive into Murata’s world and not to be appalled but to remain open minded. The author does not specify if the plots are set in today’s Japan, at some point of the future or in an alternative reality, it remains for the reader to decide. Having read “Earthlings” and “Convenience Store Woman” I already knew that the author has a talent to reaching my emotional limits and this she succeeds again with her stories.
Some of the stories left a deeper impact on me than others. Among them the one that also provided the title for the short story collection, “Life Ceremony”. The idea of eating human flesh was beyond my imagination even though I liked how the protagonist was drawn and her emotions transmitted.
Food in general seems to be a topic in Japanese literature, after recently having read “Butter” by Asako Yuzuki, I already had the impression that the sensual aspect is something that plays an important role, maybe because a highly controlled society does not grant itself the luxury of such feelings.
Relationships, types of families also are touched upon several times, can two women qualify as family and can a couple experience love without ever having intercourse? The stories invite you to ponder about many questions and to scrutinize your position and attitude when it comes to the deviation of the common.
A wide range of short insights into lives that move unnoticed among people even though they are at the fringe if their nerves.