Breasts and Eggs

Mieko Kawakami (Author) David Boyd (Translator)
& 1 more
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The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan's most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE.

"Breasts and Eggs took my breath away."--HARUKI MURAKAMI

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Challenging every preconception about storytelling and prose style, mixing wry humor and riveting emotional depth, Kawakami is today one of Japan's most important and best-selling writers. She exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist.

Breasts and Eggs paints a portrait of contemporary womanhood in Japan and recounts the intimate journeys of three women as they confront oppressive mores and their own uncertainties on the road to finding peace and futures they can truly call their own.

It tells the story of three women: the thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister, Makiko, and Makiko's daughter, Midoriko. Makiko has traveled to Tokyo in search of an affordable breast enhancement procedure. She is accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with growing up. Her silence proves a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and frustrations.

On another hot summer's day ten years later, Natsu, on a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless.

Kawakami's first novella My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, published in Japan in 2007, was awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The following year, she published Breasts and Eggs as a short novella, and won praise from Yoko Ogawa and Haruki Murakami. The newly expanded Breasts and Eggs, already hailed as a "feminist masterwork" (Entertainment Weekly), is her first novel to be published in English.

"Mieko Kawakami's first full-scale novel to be translated from Japanese into English reveals what a Catherine Wheel of talent she is, how unplaceable and unique. How forceful. [...] The way she moves among her characters here will make clear why Breasts and Eggs is the Makioka Sisters of its time."--John Freeman in Literary Hub

"Mieko Kawakami lobbed a literary grenade into the fusty, male-dominated world of Japanese fiction with Breasts and Eggs."--The Economist

Product Details

$27.00  $24.84
Europa Editions
Publish Date
April 07, 2020
5.3 X 8.4 X 1.5 inches | 1.4 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Born in Osaka prefecture in Japan, Mieko Kawakami made her literary debut as a poet in 2006. Her first novella My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, published in 2007, was awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The following year, Kawakami published Breasts and Eggs as a novella, and won Japan's most prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize. In 2016, she was selected as Granta Best of Young Japanese Novelist. The newly expanded Breasts and Eggs is her first novel to be published in English. Kawakami is also the author of the novels Heaven, The Night Belongs to Lovers, both of which will be published by Europa Editions. She lives in Tokyo.


"A stunning work of iridescence, changing with the light. For good reason this promises to be one of the most talked-about novels of the year."--Financial Times

"A bracing, feminist exploration of daily life in Japan."--Entertainment Weekly

"Not just some elevated piece of literary chick-lit. [Breasts and Eggs is] a novel of humanity, a multifaceted consideration of the fundamental question: What does it mean to exist? [. . .] A street-smart, distinctly Osakan empathy reverberates throughout this perpetually surprising, cleverly spiraling novel."--The Japan Times

""Kawakami, in her first book to be published in English, considers the agency that women exert over their bodies and charts the emotional underpinnings of physical changes--both intentional and unbidden--with humor and empathy."--The New Yorker

"Kawakami's timely feminist themes; strange, surreal prose; and wonderful characters will transcend cultural barriers and enchant readers."--The New York Observer

"Kawakami's narrative is bracing and evocative, tender yet unflinching in depicting the relationship between the sisters and between mother and daughter."--Publishers Weekly

"Kawakami writes frankly about the mix of envy, admiration, scorn, and devotion that women feel towards each other."--Jennifer Schaffer, The Baffler

"The book is so much about the body. If you are craving a novel that really describes a woman's body so well, just in terms of desire, in terms of longing, in terms of a sense of self, then this is a fantastic novel to read and I highly recommend it."--Kat Chow, NPR

"Within an affecting portrait-of-an-artist-in-transition, Kawakami deftly, deeply questions the assumptions of womanhood and family--the bonds and abuses, expectations and betrayals, choices and denials."--Booklist

"Kawakami writes with unsettling precision about the body--its discomforts, its appetites, its smells and secretions. And she is especially good at capturing its longings."--Katie Kitamura, The New York Times Book Review

"A unique, direct voice--almost every page contains sentences that stop me in my tracks."--Marta Bausells in Literary Hub

"[Breasts and Eggs] speaks to the stories of Lucia Berlin; there is the same sense of a dispassionate but honoring gaze cast on working-class women, dogged and unsentimental in their survival."--Hermione Hoby, 4 Columns

"Fearless in its demand for accountability, transcendent in its honesty, it breathes life into feminist literature."--PopMatters

"This powerful story is a testament to female relationships, the role that memories play in the now, forgiveness and the ability to grow, no matter how painful it can be"--Happy Mag

"Timeless and thoroughly contemporary, intimate and expansive, Natsuko and her companions encompass extremes in a singular and unforgettable fashion."--The Midwest Book Review

"Mieko Kawakami deftly captures the anxiety of performing gender, while asking tough questions about class and the expectations of women."--BuzzFeed News

"Kawakami's book is complex and multi-layered, asking us deep and profound questions about humanity, social rules, procreation, and femininity."--The Fountain

"Kawakami is known for her manipulation of language, and in Breasts and Eggs the body is just another given, with tenderness traded for candor."--Willamette Week

"Breasts and Eggs provides the possibility of transformation through self-acceptance and understanding. Regardless of their various ordeals, characters choose, despite everything, to live, forming relationships and families that are eccentric in structure but just as warm and welcoming."--Asymptote Journal

"I can never forget the sense of pure astonishment I felt when I first read Mieko Kawakami's novella Breasts and Eggs . . . Kawakami is always ceaselessly growing and evolving."--Haruki Murakami, author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

"Mieko Kawakami is Japan's Brightest New Literary Star."--The Economist

"One of Japan's brightest stars is set to explode across the global skies of literature . . . Kawakami is both a writer's writer and an entertainer, a thinker and constantly evolving stylist who manages to be highly readable and immensely popular."--The Japan Times