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Book Review: Life Ceremony By Sayaka Murata


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.


I have been excited to read Sayaka’s other novels however at the present time I have been gifted with this one so Thank You to the publishers.

This novel is a collection of what I would call ‘What If’ scenarios on the theme of life and all the different possible versions there could be that you can imagine. We do indeed live in a dystopian world (Government controlled, what a pain) but novels include more screwed up versions that our minds would allow us to think.

From making use of human flesh so that nothing is wasted (some cultures are like this however this particular short story I read in this novel takes it to another level). The stories can be seen as so twisted but I was intrigued to see the types of thoughts and imagination another person could have. It also made me think about different versions as well.

Although some stories are a bit more difficult to listen to, it felt amazing to have a bunch of stories right at your fingertips of the alternatives that could be possible. It can be seen as disturbing but at the same time I kept wanting to get into the next story AND it could also be overwhelming.

Each story had a point and makes you reflect upon each one.

3/5 Stars

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