Review: In the Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami

Four stars

I know what happened but don’t really know what it was about.

Having enjoyed Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marukami, I went to Waterstones to buy something else from the same author. Butted up against them was In The Miso Soup by another writer of the same last name. The sleeve made it sound like a literary Manga slasher fest, so I bought it.

What happens is a young Japanese man who provides foreign tourists with guided tours of Tokyo’s sex district ends up guiding a total psycho, who has skills in slicing people up and setting fire to them. The tourist manages to trap aforementioned tour guide into not grassing him up to the cops after several monumentally grissly murders and to carry on being his guide.

What it’s about, I really don’t know; but I think I’ll work it out eventually. I was a little concerned that I was reading a graphic novel without the pictures, but it is better than that. The writing has a style that conveys unease, lives gone wrong, fear and isolation without using the comic book’s system of emblems (by which I mean that comics have a set number of pictures and you know when you see one of them what you are supposed to feel – if Judge Dredd is looking down at a dead perp and grimacing, you know it’s a dirty world he has to deal with but it falls to him to do so; everyone has a responsibility to stand up and be counted when life stinks). I think it’s a literate book, but one which the author comes to loaded with a culture of Manga – just like I would come to writing loaded with Captain Pugwash.

The big slaughter scene was pretty grissly – even I was disgusted – so this book is probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

2 thoughts on “Review: In the Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami”

  1. I took a copy of this on holiday with me (as well as Battle Royale by Koushun Takami). I made sure there was plenty of time to lend them to the others on the trip to instill a paranoid sense of queasy mistrust amongst the ‘team members’. I also gave everyone a number and gave six-hourly updates on which numbers were still alive…

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