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Life Ceremony

By Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemori
Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemori digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

The long-awaited first short story-collection by the author of the cult sensation Convenience Store Woman, tales of weird love, heartfelt friendships, and the unsettling nature of human existence

With Life Ceremony, the incomparable Sayaka Murata is back with her first collection of short stories ever to be translated into English. In Japan, Murata is particularly admired for her short stories, which are sometimes sweet, sometimes shocking, and always imbued with an otherworldly imagination and uncanniness.

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.

60 Reviews

Surprised Face with Open Mouth
Multi-layered charactersDarkThought-provoking
“Instinct doesnt exist. Morals dont exist. They were just fake sensibilities that came from a world that was constantly transforming. Sayaka Murata's Life Ceremonies is her first collection of 12 short stories ever to be translated into English. “Lovers on the Breeze” is told from the perspective of a curtain in a child’s bedroom named Puff who is jealous when his young mistress Naoko kisses her new boyfriend. "Life Ceremonies" is set in a world where people are cooked and eaten after their death and help create new lives. In these strange and disturbing tales, Sayaka Murata questions the norms and cultures of the society by presenting totally weird and sometimes even creepy situations. A 5⭐ read and i would totally recommend it to anyone looking for a short read.”
“Somebody check on this woman”
“Sayaka, girl, you crazy. This book of short stories is WILD. Having read Earthlings and Convenience Store Woman now, I finally feel like I understand Murata’s writing style, her quirks and humour and I’m happy to finally say I GET IT. I finally get it, this book is hilarious. Filled with all the things people typically find gruesome; amongst those are cannibalism, intimate relationships with family members (and inanimate objects) and plenty of bodily fluids - these stories are told in such a way that I couldn’t stop laughing. This is by far my favourite of her books, and probably the best book of short stories I’ve ever read. There’s probably one or two of the stories I could’ve lived without, but the funniest and most memorable ones for me are A First-Rate Material, A Magnificent Spread, Poochie and Life Ceremony. If I hadn’t read her other books, I probably would’ve put this down thinking WTF did I just read? And I do still slightly feel like that, but in the best possible way. Almost full marks from me, but as I said, there was a couple of stories I could’ve lived without: 4.5/5 stars rounded down”
“It wasn't what I was expecting . Some of the stories I would love to read more about, I actually think that maybe 3 or 4 would give great individual books , but it felt rushed and weird in some points. When the first one ended i was like (?) Where's the rest ? Maybe my expectations were too high .”

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