Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Review: Breasts and Eggs

Breasts and Eggs Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, published in Japan in 2008 and published translated into English in May 2020, is a good reminder of the danger of a single story. A profile of the article in The Guardian five days ago quotes the author as saying, "Japan’s literary universe is still odd, cute and a bit mysterious...But we’re not like that at all. I don’t want to write books that perpetuate that image. I want to write about real people.”

The real people in this book are women - single women - dealing with the realities of a society that is so often blind to what it takes to survive on your own, particularly as you age. As you might imagine from the title, the female body, childbirth, motherhood, and mother-daughter relationships are all major themes. Their lives aren't quirky or flashy, just normal working lives.

The author comes from this kind of background. The other element I'm interested in from my reading is the Osaka dialect which she tried to communicate in writing (which is difficult in logographic kanji, hopefully I'm referring to it properly.) The translators have written about this challenge and my book club should have fun discussing it tomorrow, but I think it comes across best when the characters have been drinking.

This is another book for Women in Translation Month and I think the translation is thoughtful, however I found it ironic that both translators would be male for this very female-centric book. It makes me wonder if there is anything they missed - the author feels it is problematic when men impose legislation without including women without being able to share their experiences - in the same vein why not use a female translator? That really stood out.

I feel I enjoyed reading about and around this book more than the book itself, but I can see what she is trying to do and look forward to what she does next.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting the Reading Envy blog and podcast. Word verification has become necessary because of spam.