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In the Miso Soup [Hardcover]

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Item description for In the Miso Soup by Ralph F. McCarthy Ryu Murakami...

It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until the second night, however, in a scene that will shock you and make you laugh and make you hate yourself for laughing, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.
Kenji's intimate knowledge of Tokyo's sex industry, his thoughtful observations and wisecracks about the emptiness and hypocrisy of contemporary Japan, and his insights into the shockingly widespread phenomena of "compensated dating" and "selling it" among Japanese schoolgirls, give us plenty to think about on every page. Kenji is our likable, if far from innocent, guide to the inferno of violence and evil into which he unwillingly descends-and from which only Jun, his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, can possibly save him...

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Item Specifications...

Pages   180
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 18, 2003
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770029578  
ISBN13  9784770029577  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
5Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > General
6Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > General

Reviews - What do customers think about In the Miso Soup?

More than just gore  Aug 10, 2008
In the Miso Soup is Ryu Murakami, that's for sure. You've got about 10 pages of hardcore gore, and 10 more that are creepy without the core. But it's almost as if he were inserting the severed body parts to get at some deeper topics.
In this book, Murakami's VERY critical about current Japanese society. Both with the loss of traditional culture, and rise of super-materialism. He's one of the most critical novelists I've read when it comes to his own culture and society. In many ways, he reminds me of Phillip Wylie, an underrated American writer from the 50s-60s who used novels to criticize the conformist society.
I asked one of my Japanese students about the 2 Murakamis (Haruki-- more popular in the US, and Ryo.) Haruki is for women and girls, he said. Ryu is for men and boys.
Yeah the book is gory, gross. But there's a lot more to it than that. If you're at all familiar with Japanese society... especially if you LIKE Japanese society as I do... read this book for a completely other point of view. --Mykel Board (aka Michael)
Thriller that reflects on the meaning of loneliness  Mar 1, 2008
In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami is on the surface a gritty hard boiled thriller set in the Kabuki-cho red-light district of Tokyo as the approaching New Year leaves near empty except for the human wreckage of the city. Jimji a young illegal sex tourist guide makes a good but shady living from taking westerners around the girlie bars, peep shows, hookers that allow foreigners.

He meets up with Frank who hires him for three days but from the start Jimji feels something is wrong and he starts to be sucked into an ever deepening nightmare that threatens his and his girl friend existence.

The story is told in the 1st person from Jimji perspective and is based on clear fluid writing equal if not better then Haruki Murakami, which evokes the place and time so that you have a movie in your head. Not necessarily a good thing given some of things that happen.

Beneath the surface is a very different story which leads to conclusions and beginnings that can be misunderstood if psycho thriller is the readers' sole expectation. We are instead being lead into mediation through the events affecting two desperate characters on what the Western and Japanese experience of loneliness is. The key passage for me is this one.

I remember the American making this particular confession, and the way his voice caught when he said "accept it". Americans don't talk about just grinning and bearing it, which is the Japanese approach to so many things. After listening to a lot of these stories, I began to think that American loneliness is a completely different creature from anything we experience in this country, and it made me glad I was born Japanese. The type of loneliness where you need to keep struggling to accept a situation is fundamentally different from the sort you know you will get through if you just hang in there. I don't think I could stand the sort of loneliness Americans feel.

Reflect on what is being said here and you will enjoy a taut psychological thriller whose outcome makes perfect sense. Highly recommended
good thriller  Jul 7, 2007
This is a good thriller, and though it features an American deranged serial killer and Japanese victims, it avoids typecasting Japanese Good Foreigner Bad by including Kenji's thoughts Japanese society. Prepare to stay up reading, be shocked and frightened.
DELiCiOUSLY DARK!  Jun 28, 2007
I bought this book when I was 14 because it sounded like an interesting read. I couldn't put this book down. it is surreal, gritty and chilling! In one scene in the book I had to skip over it because it was too graphic, but other than that you will find yourself reacting as if you're watching a drama cop show on TV. Also a very interesting and rarely exposed version of a different culture.

I would say you should definitely read this book, it's one of my favorites.
A Walk On The Wild Side  Jan 24, 2007
"In the Miso Soup" is my own first try of "the other Murakami", who is also famous for his work. I have to say that "In the Miso Soup" was a pleasant, fast paced read and one that had a lot to say.

The main characters are Kenji, a nightlife tour guide in Tokyo's seedy sex-spots such as Kabuki-cho, and Frank, a modestly dressed American tourist that sets off Kenji's alarms. Set over a 3 day period, the story follows Kenji's decent into Frank's world of violence.

Written in the first person, the book is flooded with Kenji's observations about Japan's culture, society and what he sees as the blatant woes of it all. Kenji is not one to mince words, and deals out a fair amount of criticism on everything from materialism to "compensated- dating". The wry observations often have their catalyst in Frank, or his activities. The observations and even Frank's monologues are quite insightful at times, and give one plenty of food for thought. However, Kenji offers no real solutions to the woes he observes.

While there is no mystery regarding who the killer is, there is some mystery as to what the ending will be and how Kenji and Frank will resolve things, if they do. This sense of unknown was what kept me hooked to the very end.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ryu Murakami's journey into the dark side of life, and I was not easily able to put it down to sleep. For those craving something a little different, this is nice book. And at only a couple of hundred pages, it won't consume so much time. I, for one, will be hunting for more of this Murakami.

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