Book Review: Snakes and Earrings

Snakes and Earrings

Hitomi Kanehara

Plume

128 pages

If I could choose only one word to describe this book, it would undoubtedly be freaky. I read it over a week ago and I am still not even sure whether I liked it or not. The award winning book is very short—it can easily be read in one sitting, and it is the story of a Japanese youth subculture. Lui meets Ama one night and although she’s not sure if she’s attracted to him, she moves in with him straight away and begins an odd sort of romance with him. Ama has a forked tongue, and although Lui is into body modification as well, she is new to such extremes. She decides she wants a forked tongue as well though so she goes about the process of piercing her tongue and enlarging the hole. I don’t think I am squeamish at all but ready about the piercing and enlarging it made my skin crawl.

At the same time, Lui goes to Ama’s friend Shiba to have her back tattooed with a large dragon. Shiba agrees to do so and in return, receives sex as opposed to monetary payment. As with the piercings, the sexual encounters in the book are very explicit. In fact, the entire book is basically gritty, disturbing look at a strange aspect of youth.

Lui’s character intrigued me because she was so fickle, which really isn’t an odd characteristic for someone in their teenage years, but she took it to the extreme. I was especially surprised with her actions towards the end of the book. She felt a strong love for Ama but she also knew nothing about him. When something happens to him at the end of the book, she is able to get over it so quickly.

One of the most interesting aspects of this whole book was how it was published in 2003, when the author, Hitomi Kanehara was only twenty years old! It garnered her two prestigious Japanese literature awards. She is only about two weeks older than me, so that made me take notice of how young she was to have accomplished so much. She has since published some other books—none of which I know anything about. I doubt I will read any of them—in fact, I read this one only because my sister had it with her on vacation and wanted me to give it a try. It was a nice change of pace from what I generally read but I wasn’t blown away by it.

Other reviews:

booklit

Book Haven

The Reading Life

In Spring it is the Dawn

I borrowed this book from my sister
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