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Quartet to read

Updated: 2020-09-16 13:16:53


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From a portrait of contemporary working-class womanhood in Japan to the rules of contagion, and from unlocking the secrets of the universe to the meaning of clothes and how we wear them, here are four titles to enliven your stay-at-home experience.



Breasts and eggs by Mieko Kawakami [Photo provided to China Daily]

Breasts and Eggs 

Mieko Kawakami

You know you're about to read something special when renowned writer Haruki Murakami calls the author his favourite young writer in Japan. So it is with Mieko Kawakami's quirkily titled Breasts and Eggs. On a hot summer's day, we meet three women: 30-year-old Natsu, her elder sister Makiko and Makiko's teenage daughter Midoriko. An ageing hostess losing her looks, Makiko travels to Tokyo for breast enhancement surgery. She's accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently stopped speaking, finding herself unable to deal with her changing body and her mother's self-obsession. Her silence dominates Natsu's rundown apartment, providing a catalyst for each woman to grapple with their anxieties and relationships with one another.

Eight years later, we meet Natsu again. Now a writer, she makes a journey back to her native city, returning to memories of that summer as she faces her own uncertain future. All of this parallels the real-life story of Kawakami, who worked as a hostess, a bookseller, a singer and blogger before publishing her first full-length novel, 2010's Heaven, to great acclaim.

Breasts and Eggs paints a radical and intimate portrait of working women's lot in Japan, in a society where the odds are stacked against them. Kawakami is indeed a major new international talent to watch. (Picador)

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