Book Talk: Aunties and men face off in Japan

Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:45am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - The high point of life for a group of aimless Japanese men in their 20s is singing pop songs, eating beef jerky and watching a female neighbor undress -- until one, for no reason, kills a middle-aged woman.

The woman's death galvanizes her group of friends --divorced, fiercely independent "obasans," or aunties, in their late 30s -- who plot revenge against the men, violence that escalates hilariously as the two groups pick each other off.

"Popular Hits of the Showa Era," a satire, is one of a handful of books by prolific and prize-winning author Ryu Murakami to be translated into English. He has also written "Coin Locker Babies" and "Almost Transparent Blue."

Murakami, who has played in rock bands and dabbled in film-making, talked to Reuters about his book and about writing.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: "It was the start of the 1990s. The whole idea of personal computers and communication via them was just getting started, though of course there wasn't really an Internet yet, and there were lots of people just sitting around at computers. People were just thinking of themselves. It was a very peaceful society but there was a sense of something dangerous in it.

"I wanted to write about how all you needed was one incident to invite a lot of violence, but I wanted to make it funny because otherwise nobody would read it."

Q: What did you intend with this book?   Continued...