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Life at the prestigious Q High School for Girls in Tokyo exists on a precise social axis: a world of insiders and outsiders, of haves and have-nots. Beautiful Yuriko and her unpopular, unnamed sister exist in different spheres; the hopelessly awkward Kazue Sato floats around among them, trying to fit in.Years later, Yuriko and Kazue are dead — both have become prostitutes and both have been brutally murdered.
Natsuo Kirino, celebrated author of Out, seamlessly weaves together the stories of these women’s struggles within the conventions and restrictions of Japanese society. At once a psychological investigation of the pressures facing Japanese women and a classic work of noir fiction, Grotesque is a brilliantly twisted novel of ambition, desire, beauty, cruelty, and identity by one of our most electrifying writers.
with me in P Ward in my grandfather’s government-sponsored apartment. While Yurio was under Johnson’s care, he had been placed in a facility in Osaka that specialized in caring for the blind. Since he had been there from his first year of elementary school, practically raised there, in fact—he would occasionally lapse into the saka dialect when he spoke. It made me laugh. He had a face that was so beautiful it was out of this world, but he was straightforward and taciturn. His only interest was
lack of response; he left the office immediately. That evening as I was preparing to leave, a male coworker who was five years my senior came over to me. He had been the one who had accused me at the office party of using connections to enter the firm. “Sat, it really isn’t any of my business, but I’d like to talk with you about something. Do you have a minute?” He barely spoke above a whisper, glancing around nervously the whole time. “What is it?” I could feel my defenses rising. I still
freezing out here. Let’s go somewhere where we can be inside.” As soon as I saw the man nod genially, I grabbed his arm and led him back toward Maruyama-ch. There I pulled him into the first love hotel we came to. He looked like he was a salary man, late forties, maybe early fifties. His skin was warm from the sake he’d drunk and his complexion was murky. I dragged him down the hall, barely managing to stay on my feet because he was stumbling so badly, and pushed him into a room. “I charge
to make a phone call!” I shouted. As I pulled my date book out of my bag, a snot-encrusted wad of tissue flew out, along with a dirty handkerchief. They both landed beside me on the floor. Mother stared at them angrily, but I just shooed her away. “What’re you looking at? Get out of here.” “You’re going to be late for work.” “It’s no big deal if I’m just a little late. The office manager was a whole hour late the other day. And the day before that, one of the secretaries was late. Everyone
without lights. Her fragile nerves—I wonder if I’d inherited them. It would have been a blessing if they’d gone to Yuriko, but compared to me Yuriko was uncomplicated and overly forthright in her own desires. I was the one who took after Mother. Kazue turned to me and asked, “Do you have any brothers and sisters?” “I’ve got a younger sister.” I answered bitterly. Just thinking of Yuriko made me bitter. Kazue swallowed. She looked like she was going to continue to ask questions, but I cut her