BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori [in Booklist]

Akutagawa Prize-winning Sayaka Murata (Convenience Store Woman, 2018), with her lauded, chosen translator Ginny Tapley Takemori – two short stories and now two novels thus far – returns for more societally defiant, shockingly disconnected, disturbingly satisfying fiction.

At 11, Natsuki is already aware she doesn’t fit into her family: “If I wasn’t here, the three of them would make a perfect unit.” Her closest connection is cousin Yuu, whom she sees only once a year when the extended family gathers at their grandparents’ remote home to commemorate ancestors during Obon. The children mutually confess they’re Planet Popinpobopia aliens, trapped in “The Factory” to mature into humanity-saving breeders. Natsuki, at least, has Piyyut, a magic-endowing Popinpobopia emissary (actually a stuffed toy hedgehog) who saves her from her predatory, pedophilic teacher.

When the cousins find (inappropriate) comfort against the world, the adults harshly separate them. Reunion only happens 23 years later when Natsuki takes her unconventional husband to the ancestral home where Yuu has been sequestering.

What happens is – well, yes – out of this world. Murata again confronts and devastates so-called “normal,” “proper” behavior to create an unflinching exposé of society.

Review: “Fiction,” Booklist, September 1, 2020

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018 (Japan), 2020 (United States)


1 Comment

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.