Set in the dark night of Tokyo, In the Miso Soup is a short but disturbing thriller which will make you question the morals of humanity. The novel follows a relatively simple narrative, in which Kenji, a guide for tourists to Tokyo’s red light district, takes on a strange and unnerving new client, Frank. As tension gradually builds, Murakami truly immerses his reader into the gritty streets of Tokyo city.
At first, what did feel like a drawback to the novel was its apparent lack of much intuitive subtlety, with major plot points heavily emphasised and lingered upon (a style I usually find attributed to much of Japanese anime). However, as the novel progressed, another aspect to it became apparent, one which certainly intrigued and proved to provide substantial content for contemplation.
Though particularly disturbing and gory at times, In the Miso Soup is not a typical horror novel. Indeed, where this novel particularly appealed was in its poignant social commentaries throughout. Amidst the suspense and violence, Murakami sustained frequent and insightful considerations on modern Japanese culture. Through the surprisingly wise thoughts and words of twenty year old Kenji, Murakami contemplated Japanese morals, views and his concerns for them all. For anyone interested in Japan, especially against the backdrop of the Tokyo sex industry, In the Miso Soup offers its foreign readers a laid-bare insight into Japanese culture on the verge of the twenty-first century.
Despite being somewhat of an odd mix, nouveau-horror meets philosophical contemplation, In the Miso Soup is definitely an interesting read. But be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Length: 181 (Bloomsbury)
Overall Rating: 4 stars
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