Pulp! Influences: Natsuo Kirino

It’s been a while since my last post as I’ve been sorting out stuff for the print edition of Beaten to a Pulp! (exciting times) among other things, including getting down to writing some new stories.

Today’s author is best-selling Japanese crime writer Natsuo Kirino.

Kirino’s first major work, Out (the first of only four of her many novels to be translated into English [2005]), was released in 1997 to critical acclaim, winning some of Japans biggest genre and literary awards. It follows the story of four women working the nightshift in a boxed lunch factory whose lives are thrown into turmoil when one of them kills her cheating husband. All of them are trapped in their lives – by debt, sick relatives, loveless family relationships – and in a perverse way their grim decision to cover up the murder together is an adventure that sets them free.

What I really liked about the novel is the way the almost mundane level of realism presented in the characters’ home lives is pitted against the grotesque farce of the four women donning their work gear – aprons, hairnets, wellies, rubber gloves – to chop up dead bodies and go into business with gangsters. (Definitely one for fans of Breaking Bad.)

In Real World (2003 [2008]) Kirino covers similar territory, with four teenage girls helping a boy who has murdered his mother to run away from the authorities. Each has their own reason for helping him, to a greater or lesser extent, and what shines is the depth each character is given, the combination of both general and specific problems they each have in their lives that mould their reaction to events.

We are also given a glimpse into the world of ‘Worm’ – the troubled teenage boy who kills his mother unapologetically, a character reminiscent of Camus’ Meursault.

Real World and Out were both influences on my upcoming debut novel [drop in subtle teaser, well done] due out near the end of October [vague enough?].

In the meantime you can read my collection of short stories, Beaten to a Pulp!, here.

Cover image: Knopf Doubleday

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