Book Review: Coin Locker Babies

Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami

I read Coin Locker Babies by Ryu urakami in June 2016

Coin Locker Babies is  a novel by Ryu Murakami, first published in 1980 in Japan, and translated into English in 1995.

Murakami is known for his dark, gritty books, and Coin Locker Babies does not disappoint. The book introduces us to Toxitown, a neighboorhood in Tokyo known both for its toxicity and its black market, where everything is for sale. Drawn to this place are the two orphans, Hashi and Kiku, coin locker babies who were left by their mothers in coin lockers at a train station. Growing up in an orphanage they then move to fosterparents in Kyushu before running away to Tokyo when they turn 16.

In Toxitown, Hashi is discovered by a music producer and launches a music career, while Kiku takes up pole vaulting and marries a model with a pet alligator.

Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami

Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami

As the book continues, the events get more and more fantastic, new surprises turn up in every chapter, Murakami lets his imagination run wild with this book.

The previous books I have read by Ryu Murakami have been a lot shorter, usually less than two hundred pages. As this book is twice as long, Coin Locker Babies can tell a longer, more complicated story, and does so well. Murakami mixed genres throughout the book and is always keeping the reader guessing what will happen next.

The book is well written, funny and entertaining, sometimes maybe going a bit too far, but overall enjoyable and worth a read. Describing a Japan that does not really exists, the book still offers a glimpse into Japan and the ways of its citizens, and can be seen as a social commentary on the new, post-industrialised Japan. The book is certainly worth reading, both for people interested in Japan and fans of good literature.

For more books about Japan, see my Books from Japan Page

Read my other Book Reviews.

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