Out: Unleashed Monsters

CaptureI read Natsuo Kirino’s Out for Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge and Bibliobio’s Women in Translation month.

I finished reading Out last night and I still can’t remove quite a few graphic images from my head. I am also wrestling with some questions for which I can’t find answers. I hope you will help me understand the book more. (This blog might contain spoilers because I would like to discuss a couple of loose ends which are haunting me.)

Everything is going wrong in the lives of Masako, Yayoi, Yoshi, and Kuniko. Everything. They all do night shifts, making boxed lunches. The factory sounds like a place that can make a sane person insane. Quite a gruelling job and an unfriendly place.

Yayoi murders her husband, and all the other women cut up the cadaver and dispose it around Tokyo’s suburbs. That’s only the beginning. They now cannot stop what they have started, for things have gone beyond their control.

I like the book till here. I have given four stars on Goodreads. I still like the book but I don’t see myself recommending it, for I am worried about the all the ghoulish details.

Natsuo Kirino’s observation on gender equality in workplace makes for a great point to discuss. Masako, despite being talented and incredibly focussed at work, is not allowed to grow, only because she is a woman. The men who joined after her are enjoying higher compensations and promotions. I was thankful to Kirino for dedicating a chapter just for that.

I loved the idea that four unassuming women — three of them are pressed by financial crisis — were courageous in their own ways to chop up a body in their bathroom, and tried their best to lead a normal life even after the incident that would have shaken anybody’s core. Although there was no camaraderie among them, they were united by their own problems, by their selfishness. If they were bonded by a heartwarming friendship, perhaps, the book wouldn’t have come across this cold and clinical.

My problems lie here — I do not find Masako’s motive convincing. I understand that she is shutting herself away from the world, her family is dysfunctional, her 20-year-old career turned futile, and that there is a huge void in her life and she decides to fill it in an unconventional way. Despite that, I still wanted a strong reason for Masako to jump into this pool of blood and flesh and bones.

The biggest of problems is this: The climax. I didn’t expect Masako to identify herself with Satake (I choose not to mention anything more about him!). I didn’t want her to find pleasure in being raped, nor did I want her to think that he was the love of her life. When I reached that part, all the bathroom scenes seemed less nauseous. Perhaps, that was a strong statement. But till then, Masako looked human in some way. She might not have drowned in guilt like others, but she still seemed human. After she began adoring Satake, she seemed even more lost and cold.

I enjoyed reading Out. The horror tested my endurance. When I was brushing this morning, I measured my bathroom in my head, and envisaged having a corpse there. I shook my head harder to dispel the image. Sigh!

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