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Books

Black Cat
Grove Press
Black Cat
NEW!

Life Ceremony

by Sayaka Murata Translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

The long-awaited first short story-collection by the author of the cult sensation Convenience Store Woman, tales of weird love, heartfelt friendships, and the unsettling nature of human existence

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 256
  • Publication Date July 05, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5958-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00
  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Publication Date July 05, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5959-5
  • US List Price $25.00

With Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata is back with her first collection of short stories ever to be translated into English. In Japan, Murata is particularly admired for her short stories, which are sometimes sweet, sometimes shocking, and always imbued with an otherworldly imagination and uncanniness.

In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror to portray both the loners and outcasts as well as turning the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. Whether the stories take place in modern-day Japan, the future, or an alternate reality is left to the reader’s interpretation, as the characters often seem strange in their normality in a frighteningly abnormal world. In “A First-Rate Material,” Nana and Naoki are happily engaged, but Naoki can’t stand the conventional use of deceased people’s bodies for clothing, accessories, and furniture, and a disagreement around this threatens to derail their perfect wedding day. “Lovers on the Breeze” is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child’s bedroom that jealously watches the young girl Naoko as she has her first kiss with a boy from her class and does its best to stop her. “Eating the City” explores the strange norms around food and foraging, while “Hatchling” closes the collection with an extraordinary depiction of the fractured personality of someone who tries too hard to fit in.

In these strange and wonderful stories of family and friendship, sex and intimacy, belonging and individuality, Murata asks above all what it means to be a human in our world and offers answers that surprise and linger.

Praise for Sayaka Murata:

“To Sayaka Murata, nonconformity is a slippery slope . . . Reminiscent of certain excellent folk tales, expressionless prose is Murata’s trademark . . . The strength of [Murata’s] voice lies in the faux-naïf lens through which she filters her dark view of humankind: We earthlings are sad, truncated bots, shuffling through the world in a dream of confusion.”—New York Times Book Review

“Murata takes a childlike idea and holds onto it with imaginative fervor, brilliantly exposing the callousness and arbitrariness of convention.”—New Yorker

“Murata manages what her characters cannot: She transcends society’s core values, to dizzying effect . . . Her matter-of-fact rendering of wild events is as disorienting as it is intriguing.”—Atlantic

“If you’re in the mood for weird, Sayaka Murata is always a reliable place to turn.”—Seattle Times

“The imagination of this writer grows and grows like outer space.”—Literary Hub

“Murata celebrate[s] the quiet heroism of women who accept the cost of being themselves.”—NPR’s Fresh Air

“Murata’s sparkly writing and knack for odd, beautiful details are totally her own.”—Vogue

“Murata’s novels are a valuable, heightened exploration of the intense discomfort that people, autistic or not, who are just a little outside of society can feel when they try to force themselves to fit in. Murata’s message is: stop trying.”i-D