Natsuo Kirino has written a story about a segment of
The four women who work as an unofficial team during the overnight shift at a box lunch factory because it pays a few pennies more per hour than the earlier shifts can feel their lives slipping away from them. For a variety of reasons, each has come to prefer the solitary lifestyle demanded of those who return home just in time every morning to see everyone around them leave for their own day’s work. Yoshie, the sole support of an invalid mother-in-law and unappreciative teenage daughter, feels trapped in a situation she can barely afford to sustain. Masako has a husband whose life is so separate from hers that she only sees him at mealtimes and a teenage son who despises her, and she has come to appreciate the way that her night shift allows her to avoid both. Kumiko, youngest of the four, lives only to shop and has gotten so far into debt that she feels physically threatened by bill collectors. And Yayoi has two small boys and a husband who squanders the family earnings on his gambling addiction and the women who work the clubs he frequents.
Of the four, it is Yayoi who cracks first. The almost casual way that her husband discloses to her one evening that he has gambled away all of their savings throws her into such a rage that she finds the strength to strangle him to death. Desperate to cover up what she has done, Yayoi seeks help from Masako, the one person she trusts to keep her secret. The two hatch a scheme to dispose of the body by cutting it into pieces and placing the pieces in garbage cans around the city, a solution that requires the help of Yoshie and Kumiko if it is to have any chance of success.
Tension mounts when enough of the body is discovered to allow its identification and the police begin to suspect that Yayoi may be involved in the murder of her husband. But it is when the group’s weakest link decides to cash in on what she knows about the murder that things really begin to come apart for the women; soon all four are forced to scramble not only to keep their freedom, but to stay alive.
Out is one bloody and gruesome novel. It is filled with brutality, despair, greed and sadism and I can actually only recall one genuinely likeable character in the entire novel, someone I never expected I would grow to admire, a Brazilian/Japanese citizen in
All four of these women were looking for a way out of their hopeless circumstances. They got more than they bargained for.
Out is an interesting novel, to say the least, but some readers may find its tone and content hard to take for 359 pages. It has certainly given me a view of
Rated at: 3.5