Out – Natsuo Kirino

Cover of Out by Natsuo KirinoThis was a book recommended in Waterstones, and I was going through a phase (and still am) of buying loads of books and reading like mad. So you know how I made the choice to buy this one? The cover. I was on a 3 for 2 offer and had another book to get, and I saw this lovely cover and picked it up. The paperback version seems so plyable and holdable, I can hardly describe it but it feels like a great book to hold.

So, onto the book itself! It is the first of Kirino’s novels to be translated into English. Being an established crime writer in Japan and having several of her books made into movies it certainly seemed promising enough. My only problem, having read some Japanese translated novels before, was the clinkiness of the read once translated. I was extremely surprised.


Stephen Snyder translates this wonderfully to Japanese, in fact I wonder if this went well beyond translation and into rework, as the whole tone and characterisation seems exceedingly accessible to me as a westerner. There were only a few parts where you are jolted to the thought that this is actually in Japan, for the rest of the novel it’s an easy step to make and the images flow simply into your mind.

I’m not even going to attempt to write anything about the plot, safe to say it introduces multiple strands one by one and by association. Slowly, as the corner of the novel is turned, takes them away one by one, leaving you with the main and final strand to play out.

It really is a disturbing novel, like many Japanese movies I’ve seen and the few books I’ve read, it takes the darkest side of characters and shows how easily they click into place in a modern society. How easily they turn to their darkness and how each look into the abyss drops them further and further into its heart.

Kirino shows the bonding of friends and the strength of people in average situations and how the line between that normality and the most disturbing of thoughts and actions is only a second away.

A very unique book, and an excellent translation. I’m excited to read more of her work.

Out – Natsuo Kirino

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