Natsuo Kirino Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Japanese crime writer Natsuo Kirino first became known to English readers with the publication of Out, the 2003 translation of Auto (1997), her harrowing tale of four apparently demure women suddenly engaging in murder and body dismemberment. The success of Out led to the 2007 translation of Gurotesuku (2003; Grotesque), a mystery in which Kirino continues her focus on women and crime. Grotesque, the story of a double murder of two Tokyo prostitutes, reveals as much about a perpetrator’s deviant mind as it does about the severe peer pressures and bullying confronting young Japanese women.

In Japan, Kirino’s crime fiction has won her six major awards. Out was nominated for the 2004 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel, the first nomination for a translation from Japanese. With her strong focus on female protagonists and perpetrators, Kirino is part of a group of innovative Japanese female crime writers such as Miyuki Miyabe who have been challenging, changing, and developing crime fiction in Japan since the 1990’s. Kirino’s combination of deep psychological insights and her stark depiction of social and economic pressures has made her crime fiction internationally popular.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Harrison, Sophie. “Memoirs of a Geisha’s Sister.” New York Times Book Review, April 15, 2007, p. 15. Ironic juxtaposition of Kirino’s thriller versus the well-known best seller by Arthur Golden; argues Kirino’s vision offers close, unsentimental psychological insight to forms of prostitution in contemporary Japan.

Kirino, Natsuo. Kirino Natsuo: Bubblonia. Kirino’s official Web site offers information on her works and life in English and in Japanese.

Samul, Ron. Review of Out, by Natsuo Kirino. Library Journal 128, no. 11 (June 15, 2003): 101. Positive review of Kirino’s debut novel, expresses admiration for her caustic revelation of criminal revenge carried out by women in a hostile social environment.

Seaman, Amanda. Bodies of Evidence: Women, Society, and Detective Fiction in 1990s Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004. Section on Kirino discusses her place among modern Japanese female crime writers. Praises Kirino’s narrative skill and how her crime fiction exposes the dark sides of Japan’s society.

Seaman, Amanda. “Inside Out: Space, Gender and Power in Kirino Natsuo.” Japanese Language and Literature 40, no. 2 (2006): 197-217. Academic critique of Kirino’s mystery; analysis focuses on evocation of threatening places, gender struggle, and the antiheroine’s ultimate triumph.

Takayama, Hideko. “Breaking Out of Japan.” Newsweek International, August 18, 2003, 50. Attentive analysis of Kirino’s debut novel in English; praises author for highlighting the dark, misogynist side of modern Japan and creating a suspenseful crime novel, feels Out reveals new aspects of post bubble-economy Japan.

Vrabel, Leigh Anne. Review of Grotesque, by Natsuo Kirino. Library Journal 132, no. 4 (March 1, 2007): 74-75. Critical review praises Kirino’s skills at creating a tale of psychological horror but with some reservations about the relentless onslaught of dysfunctional, grotesque characters.