This is Speakeasy Mag’s first installment in our new “Book of the Month” series.
There’s no better way to fight off the winter blues than reading a great book. My fiction selection for this month is a high-intensity thriller that I promise will whisk your mind away from the freezing weather. “Out,” by Natsuo Kirino, is one hell of a reading experience that you’ll not easily forget.
There’s about a thousand and one reasons why “Out” will never make it to Oprah’s Book Club reading list. From the merciless social commentary to the gritty realism that feels like a punch to the kidney, this book is certainly not for the faint of heart. Combining the hyper-violence of a Tarantino movie with cruel irony that teeters on absurdity, “Out” is a novel that takes no prisoners. For the first time in my life, I found it almost physically impossible to put a book down. “Out” possessed me from page one, spurring within me an obsessive desire to read on.
The plot surrounds the lives of a group of middle-aged Japanese women who work the graveyard shift together at a pre-made lunch factory. One of these women, Yayoi, snaps under the weight of an abusive relationship and unintentionally murders her husband. Overwhelmed by her own actions and horrified by the potential consequences, she calls on her co-workers to assist in covering up the crime. What follows is a snowball of drama, tragedy and depravity as this unlikely group of women is put to the test. Ethics quickly deteriorate as the plot becomes increasingly gruesome, all of which serve as an allegory for the inherently disturbed nature of everyday society.
This book is a trip; a chokehold rather than a fluffy entertainment piece. Nevertheless, Kirino writes it beautifully, her words flowing effortlessly onto the pages as she transitions between the viewpoints of the four main characters. Her words are biting and poignant as she speaks the words that many aren’t brave enough to say. Thankfully, her writing voice remains distinct and clear despite the book having been translated into English from the original Japanese.
The themes this book tackles are not always easy to digest. Despite its disturbing nature, it challenges thought and questions the jaded structure of Japanese society. This book has deeper implications beyond what the surface might suggest, setting it apart from other novels of a similar genre vein.
If you’re looking for something to boil your blood and quicken your pulse this bitter winter, grab a copy of “Out” by Natsuo Kirino. Make sure to reserve some free time however, because once you start it’s hard to stop.
Speakeasy rating: A+