Monday, January 14, 2019

Mini-Review: Revenge: Stories by Yoko Ogawa

RevengeRevenge: Stories by Yoko Ogawa 
trans. Stephen Snyder
Picador, 1998
Paperback. 162 pages.

About Revenge:
"Sinister forces draw together a cast of desperate characters in this eerie and absorbing novel from Yoko Ogawa. 

An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Years later, the writer’s stepson reflects upon his stepmother and the strange stories she used to tell him. Meanwhile, a surgeon’s lover vows to kill him if he does not leave his wife. Before she can follow-through on her crime of passion, though, the surgeon will cross paths with another remarkable woman, a cabaret singer whose heart beats delicately outside of her body. But when the surgeon promises to repair her condition, he sparks the jealousy of another man who would like to preserve the heart in a custom tailored bag. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders—their fates converge in a darkly beautiful web that they are each powerless to escape. 

Macabre, fiendishly clever, and with a touch of the supernatural, Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge creates a haunting tapestry of death—and the afterlife of the living."

LIKES: This was a weird collection of short stories, but I like weird so it worked out well for me.
I've had a lot of success with Japanese authors in the past, so when I saw Ogawa mentioned as talented Japanese author to check out, I knew I wanted to check out her work.

This is a short collection of stories that reads quickly, so I was able to breeze through this particular book in about a day. The first story, "Afternoon in the Bakery" was a perfect opening story that really set the tone for the rest of the book--quite, unsettling, and unexpected. "Sewing for the Heart" and "The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger" are two that also stood out and that had particularly interesting storylines. I found myself almost rather amused by some of these, which feels weird to say based on the subject matter, but there's something very satisfying and entertaining to figure out the connection between the stories and find out the twist. For me, the best part of this collection was how Ogawa connected all of the stories in one way or another so that they all sort of worked together and created one overarching narrative, even though storylines and/or characters were different in each.

DISLIKES: There were a few stories that didn't hold my interest and fell a little flat, but for the most part I don't really have many complaints. A few of the 'twists' were a little predictable as well in a select few of the stories, but I'm also not sure if they were supposed to be totally surprising or not. This wasn't necessarily the best collection of stories I've ever read, but I have no doubt that I will be picking up more of Yoko Ogawa's books this year!

Overall, I've decided to give Revenge four stars! If you like weird, quiet, short fiction, then be sure to give this collection a chance.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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  1. These stories sound a lot darker than the previous Ogawa novel I read. But I like this writer. Her book The Housekeeper and the Professor is one of my favorites. :)

    1. Oh I'm so glad to hear that! That's one of her books I'm hoping to pick up next, so that really just makes me more excited to.

  2. I actually bought this book when it was released, but I don't think I ever read it. I'm glad you brought it up because now I want to go back find it!