Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Penance by Kanae Minato - 2012 - translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel - 2017

Penance by Kanae Minato - 2012- translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel - 2017

Earlier this month I read Confessions, the Award winning crime novel by Kanae Minato.   Both novels center on the murder of a very young girl, age four in Confessions and 13 or so in Penance.  Each is told from multiple points of view. Both go deeply into how the murder impacts others.

Five girls, about 12, are very close.  They are all from protective families that warn them about strangers.  One day they are shopping. A man says he is having trouble unlocking a dressing room door and, with a promise of ice cream for all, induces one of the girls to go with him to the dressing room.  He murders and rapes her. The description of her body are very graphic to let us feel how disturbed the girls were when they found her body.  We see the reactions of the girls, trying to find adults.  The police quiz them but they can offer no descriptions of the man. We follow the girls for 15 years, see how the trauma impacted them. One murders her husband.  One does not get first period until she was 25.

The mother of the murdered girl is from a wealthy family.  She tells the girls shortly after the murder she will take revenge on them unless they do penance for her death.

Murders are relative to other places uncommon in Japan.  We get a look at parenting styles.  We go to a police station. 

Penance was a fast read, always a shocking event coming.  

Kanae MINATO ( かなえ, born 1973) is a Japanese writer of crime fiction and thrillers.

She started writing in her thirties. Her first novel Confessions (告白, Kokuhaku) became a bestseller and won the Japanese Booksellers Award. The movie Confession directed by Tetsuya Nakashima was nominated to 2011 Academy Award. 

She has been described in Japan as "the queen of iyamisu"(eww mystery), a subgenre of mystery fiction which deals with grisly episodes and the dark side of human nature. From Goodreads 


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