The Goddess Chronicle (2008): Natsuo Kirino


Back when the Canongate Myths series was introduced in 2005, I bought the first three in a boxed set and swore I’d read all of them as they were published. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. And so, when I realised that Natsuo Kirino (whose Grotesque I admired) had contributed a story to the series, it was a welcome chance to catch up. Retelling the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanaki, this is an eerie tale of joy and sorrow, light and darkness, love and vengeance.

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Grotesque (2003): Natsuo Kirino


I’ve been meaning to read more Japanese fiction, but nothing quite prepared me for Natsuo Kirino’s twisted tale of female bitterness. It has made a great impact. Brutal and crude, it’s told in a detached manner that verges on the soulless. It’s also a sobering story of three young women fighting for empowerment and recognition in a world where the only accepted currency is beauty. The tale is grotesque; the setting is bleak; there isn’t a single sympathetic character in the whole damn book and yet, despite all of this, Kirino manages to create something completely gripping.

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