Beta
X

04Nov

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata review – a fizzing tale of alienation

Comfort exists on another planet for the heroine of this dark, explosive follow-up to Convenience Store Woman

Sayaka Murata’s new novel takes the quietly spoken themes of her cult hit Convenience Store Woman and sends them into orbit. The two books might be seen as siblings, though Earthlings would definitely be the evil twin. Both feature young women who reject society’s expectations and seek comfort in replacement forms of community. For Keiko in Convenience Store Woman, it was the reassuringly uniform, striplit security of the shop where she had worked all her adult life. For 10-year-old Natsuki in Earthlings, it’s the imaginary planet Popinpobopia, which she believes to be her destiny, at least according to her cuddly toy Piyyut.

So far, so kawaii, but the cute whimsy unrolled before the reader in the opening pages turns out to be covering a trapdoor. Natsuki conjures a makeshift family out of Piyyut and her cousin Yuu because her existing family doesn’t work. Her mother calls her “hopeless … she’s like a weight around my neck”. Natsuki and Yuu carry out a mock marriage, pledging to one another to “survive, whatever it takes”.

Continue reading...

Related

‘It’s the best way to live!’: International Booker winners Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell

The Indian novelist and her translator scooped the £50,000 prize with Tomb of Sand, a novel about de...

Read More >

Translating Myself and Others by Jhumpa Lahiri review – the sanctuary of language

The novelist’s collection of essays on translation only hint at what led her to take refuge in Ital...

Read More >

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg review – rock bottom in a ‘rest home’

First published in 1964, this striking account of Greenberg’s years in a psychiatric hospital revea...

Read More >

The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman review – climate and Copernicus meet in the Italian Alps

The impact of blowing up a hydroelectric dam, the limits of identity politics and the Renaissance po...

Read More >

The best recent translated fiction – review roundup

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza; The Trouble With Happiness by Tove Ditlevsen; The Land ...

Read More >

We Move by Gurnaik Johal review – a colourful tapestry of multicultural lives

Johal weaves stories of Southall citizens with economy and skill in this compelling debut collection...

Read More >