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review, book, english, sayaka murata, life ceremony, japanese literature
source: Goodreads

Title: Life Ceremony: Stories

Author: Sayaka Murata

Expected Publication: 5 July 2022

Pages: 256 pages

ISBN: 9780802159588

Language: English


With Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata is back with her first collection of short stories ever to be translated into English. In Japan, Murata is particularly admired for her short stories, which are sometimes sweet, sometimes shocking, and always imbued with an otherworldly imagination and uncanniness.

In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror to portray both the loners and outcasts as well as turning the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. Whether the stories take place in modern-day Japan, the future, or an alternate reality is left to the reader’s interpretation, as the characters often seem strange in their normality in a frighteningly abnormal world. In “A First-Rate Material”, Nana and Naoki are happily engaged, but Naoki can’t stand the conventional use of deceased people’s bodies for clothing, accessories, and furniture, and a disagreement around this threatens to derail their perfect wedding day. “Lovers on the Breeze” is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child’s bedroom that jealously watches the young girl Naoko as she has her first kiss with a boy from her class and does its best to stop her. “Eating the City” explores the strange norms around food and foraging, while “Hatchling” closes the collection with an extraordinary depiction of the fractured personality of someone who tries too hard to fit in.

In these strange and wonderful stories of family and friendship, sex and intimacy, belonging and individuality, Murata asks above all what it means to be a human in our world and offers answers that surprise and linger.



Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic to provide this ARC with exchange an honest review!

This is the second book I've read from Sayaka Murata. I always knew that the story that was told by Sayaka must be very different and far from the "normal" that we find everyday. This is what I found in this collection of stories. There are 12 stories with unique points of view and extraordinary thoughts.

The 12 stories in this book are all unique and totally unexpected. As in the blurb, here the reader is freed to think that the time setting used in this story is in the future or in a different world. Because some of those stories honestly would be very hard to accept in our day and age.

When reading the stories here, I'm sure not everyone will be strong enough to read them. There are some stories that I don't feel comfortable reading. The story deals with the human body. In one story there is a story that the body of a deceased human is used as furniture and accessories. Just imagining it gives me goosebumps and makes me uncomfortable. However, there is something even worse in the story entitled "Life Ceremony"! This is a story that is truly beyond imagination. When I read this, I thought about how this might happen in our lives. I don't want to spoilers, but this is one of the most mind-blowing stories for me personally.

I can admit that this Sayaka Murata really has an extraordinary mind and is beyond reason. All the stories that she conveys here if we look at it from the other side are actually very likely to happen. For example, in the story "Hatchling", about someone who wants to "fit" in whatever environment she is in. When I read this, I think this is also done by a lot of people out there even though the case raised is much more extreme but makes a lot of sense.

Not only that, Sayaka Murata can even make a story from the point of view of an item. When reading this at first, I was confused from whose point of view this was, but apparently, I missed reading the detailed explanation at the beginning that we can see this story from the point of view of a curtain in the bedroom. Unique, isn't it? The story is simple but because of the unique point of view it is interesting to follow.

All the uniqueness even since the first chapter is what makes me keep reading these stories even though I felt uncomfortable in some stories. There are also stories that I don't understand the meaning of what they want to convey, so after reading it I don't feel the impression.

Just like the previous book I've read, it seems like Sayaka Murata really wants to show the "normal" that exists in this world. Because "normal" standards are hard to define so people who are slightly different would be considered abnormal. I like what she’s trying to convey here, even though some of these examples are quite extreme.

I give a 3.5/5 ⭐ rating for this book. A unique book with all the perspectives and things that made me uncomfortable, but still interesting to follow.


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  1. I enjoy Sayaka'stories, in fact, I love reading her usual story-ideas.

    1. she's indeed has a great job to write something common in unique way

  2. Aaa jadi pengin baca bukunyaa soalnya kayak agak mirip-mirip buku Earthlings konsepnya, banyak adegan disturbing tapi aku malah jadi penasaran pengin lihat segila apa Sayaka di buku barunya ini 🤣. Kak Tika udah baca yang Earthlings belum?

    1. Earthling ini karya Sayaka Murata juga kah Li? Aku belom pernah baca sih kalo buku yang ini. Emang Sayaka tuh selalu out of the box banget yaaa karyanya tuh

  3. dari judulnya life ceremony udah menarik
    kann aku jadi penasaran juga mbak, dan aku sendiri belum pernah baca karya dari Sayaka ini

    1. wahhh kalo mau coba yang Gadis Minimarket dulu Mba, yang udah diterjemahkan untuk liat cocok apa engga nih sama tulisannya Sayaka