Natsuki is an observant and imaginative pre-teen when Earthlings begins.
She’s the black sheep of her family, but she doesn’t mind: she has magical powers, and in the summers she finds solace in her cousin Yuu, who shares her elaborate fantasies of escape and freedom.
Later, at 34 years old, Natsuki is pretending to be normal, living a quiet life in an asexual marriage, hoping that she can someday succumb to the pressure to be truly “normal”. Unfortunately, the horrors of her childhood won’t be quieted so easily…
I was so excited when the team at Granta (via Allen And Unwin) sent me a copy of Earthlings for review, I literally squealed. I loved Convenience Store Woman (also by Sayaka Murata, also translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori), and Earthlings turns everything about it up to eleven.
It’s a far more sophisticated novel, and Murata shows a remarkably keen insight into the psychology of trauma. Elements of the surreal and the horrific make the story tangible, visceral, and unforgettable. Trigger warnings for, um, everything, but absolutely worth the read nonetheless!