So amazing it took my breath away' Haruki Murakami, international bestselling author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles
Breasts and Eggs explores the inner conflicts of an adolescent girl who refuses to communicate with her mother except through writing. Through the story of these women, Kawakami paints a portrait of womanhood in contemporary Japan, probing questions of gender and beauty norms and how time works on the female body.
Breast and Eggs is a thrilling English language debut from Japan's brightest young talent, Mieko Kawakami.
In Kawakami's stirring if uneven tale (after Ms. Ice Sandwich), a struggling writer receives a visit in Tokyo from her sister and niece. When Makiko and her 12-year-old daughter, Midoriko arrive from Osaka, it is not quite the family weekend Natsu envisioned Midoriko has refused to speak to her mother for over six months, and Makiko's ulterior motive for the Tokyo trip is to get her breasts surgically enhanced. Interspersed with Midoriko's heartbreaking journal entries about her increasing awareness of her body as well as how her single, bar hostess mother sets her apart from her classmates, the first half of Kawakami's narrative is bracing and evocative, tender yet unflinching in depicting the relationship between the sisters and between mother and daughter. Unfortunately, the second half, set 10 years later, falters. While Natsu, now 40, has found some success as a writer, she's once again stalled in her career. Natsu would like a child, but is not interested in intimacy. This leaves her with little hope, especially after a group of people who were conceived with the help of sperm donors talk her out of the option. Though Natsu remains an empathetic character, the second part of the book feels overlong and chatty. Kawakami's talent is obvious, though readers may want to stop after Book One, while they're ahead.