In the Miso Soup

In the Miso Soup - Ryƫ Murakami,  Ralph McCarthy Kanjii is a tour guide for foreigners who want to visit the red light districts in Tokyo. Frank is his customer. Frank is a little odd. Kanjii suspects Frank might be responsible for the murder of a teen prostitute on the news...

This is the equivalent of a low budget slasher flick with the entirely predicable card-board cut out villain - the the ending is surprising and would not have occurred in the American version of the film!

References to the sex-trade in Tokyo were interesting and highlight a number of differences to the western world - the concept of 'compensated dating', or the Tokyo Pink Guide for example and 'dating bars' where people who are bored and lonely go for company (or maybe I've just lead a sheltered life?). Throughout the book there is an undertone about how people are empty and lead empty lives in modern Japan (even explicitly stated at times, which is a bit clumsy really - we got it!). Ultimately I was left feeling a little unfulfilled, perhaps lonely and empty even. Maybe not the sort of book to be read on a wet, cold Sunday afternoon in June.

I liked the fact that some of the ideas were later picked up in Murakami's later book Piercing, the pace was OK the characters (even Frank) likable, but it didn't light my world on fire, just the occasional bum.