Life Ceremony - Sayaka Murata - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Sayaka Murata is an automatic must-read author for me, now. If I found out she was writing the copy on the back of shampoo bottles, I’d buy them in bulk. That’s why I was beyond delighted to receive a copy of Life Ceremony for review, courtesy of the wonderful team at Granta Books (via Allen & Unwin).

As with Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings before, Life Ceremony has been translated into English from the original Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori – and, once again, she’s done a fantastic job.

Life Ceremony is a collection of “weird, out of this world” short stories that mix “taboo-breaking horror with feminist revenge fables”. Exactly as you’d expect from Murata if you’ve read her work before, it’s full of the joyfully strange aspects of human nature and surreal conceits that will blow your mind.

The stories vary in length and complexity, but they’re all fascinating in equal measure. There’s a story narrated by a sentient curtain, a story about a grown businessman kept as a childhood pet, and so much cannibalism.

Seriously, someone’s gotta say it. We all remember the weird turn that Earthlings took, that was one thing. But judging by a few of the stories in Life Ceremony, we must officially declare that Murata has A Thing about eating dead people, and making stuff out of their body parts. Heads up, if that bothers you!

Despite (or perhaps because of?) the cannibalism and other assorted taboo-breaking, I loved Life Ceremony just as I expected to. Murata remains a must-read-no-matter-what author for me!