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July 5, 2021

Book Review | Breasts and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami



Breasts and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: May 12th, 2020 (first published: July 11th, 2019)
Genre: Asian Literature
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Source: Thank you Pansing for the review copy in return for an honest review
Rating: 3.5

Blurbs

Kawakami, who exploded into the cultural space first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and most importantly as a best-selling novelist, challenges every preconception about storytelling and prose style. She is currently one of Japan’s most widely read and critically acclaimed authors, heralded by Haruki Murakami as his favorite young writer.

An earlier novella published in Japan with the same title focused on the female body, telling the story of three women: the thirty-year-old unmarried narrator, her older sister Makiko, and Makiko’s daughter Midoriko. Unable to come to terms with her changed body after giving birth, Makiko becomes obsessed with the prospect of getting breast enhancement surgery. Meanwhile, her twelve-year-old daughter Midoriko is paralyzed by the fear of her oncoming puberty and finds herself unable to voice the vague, yet overwhelming anxieties associated with growing up. The narrator, who remains unnamed for most of the story, struggles with her own indeterminable identity of being neither a “daughter” nor a “mother.” Set over three stiflingly hot days in Tokyo, the book tells of a reunion of sorts, between two sisters, and the passage into womanhood of young Midoriko.

In this greatly expanded version, a second chapter in the story of the same women opens on another hot summer’s day ten years later. The narrator, single and childless, having reconciled herself with the idea of never marrying, nonetheless feels increasing anxiety about growing old alone and about never being a mother. In episodes that are as comical as they are revealing of deep yearning, she seeks direction from other women in her life—her mother, her grandmother, friends, as well as her sister—and only after dramatic and frequent changes of heart, decides in favor of artificial insemination. But this decision in a deeply conservative country in which women’s reproductive rights are under constant threat is not one that can be acted upon without great drama.

Breasts and Eggs takes as its broader subjects the ongoing repression of women in Japan and the possibility of liberation, poverty, domestic violence, and reproductive ethics. Mixing comedy and realism, it is an epic life-affirming journey about finding inner strength and peace.
 



Review


Breasts and Eggs is a translated novel from Japanese. As titles says, this book is focus on women hood, child birth, fertility, breast enhancement, complicated relationship between the mother and daughter and the reunion of the two sisters. It is divided into two part which the first part focus on the reunion of the two sisters (Natsuko and Makiko) and Makiko is obsessed on want to do a breast enhancement surgery and the Natsuko felt left behind as she is not yet married and wants to have a child of her own. While, Midoriko (Makiko's daughter) is going on through puberty and she starts to accept that there are changes on her body. Honestly, I like that the first part is discussing womanhood, body image and relationships between the two.

As for the second part is more focus on Natsuko where she wants to have her child but she does not wants to get married which the idea of getting a sperm donor for her to get pregnant that fascinates Natsuko a lot. 

Honestly, it takes so long for me to finish this book and yet I am struggle on putting better words for this review. It is a great exploration on woman's life, the struggle, become conscious on body image, childless, and the relationship. Breasts and Eggs hold a good topic that I have none of it yet and it can bring lots of discussion from this book which intrigue me throughout reading the whole book. Overall, it is a good read that you need to slowly go through the whole story to fully understand well.

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