Life Ceremony: Stories; Sayaka Murata
Grove Press - 2022
I became a fan of Sayaka Murata after reading and enjoying the author's darker fiction that, Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings had to offer. Her latest offering, translated from the Japanese to English, features a series of (12) short stories, some only a few pages long others quite a bit longer. Each of the stories seem to feature characters who deviate from the norms of society and, the stories feature topics so odd or far out that at the very least come across as somewhat unsettling.
One story: First Rate Material - features a soon to be married couple who disagrees about what to wear and what kind of furniture to buy. Unlike his soon to be wife who loves wearing sweaters adorned with "human hair", wearables and furniture made from human teeth, bones and fingernails or the decreased, the soon to be groom opposes it. In a stories a middle-aged man is kept in a shed as a pet for a young girl. Hatchling, features a bride-to-be with five different personalities and a need to be liked by all. The title story, Life Ceremony is totally bizarre and one of the longer stories. It focuses on the extinction of the human race with a goal to increase population through insemination. Other stories deal with magical places and cannibalism. If the thought of reading about cannibalism isn't bad enough, there is a focus on the details of taste and texture while feasting.
Maybe because the pieces were so short, in many cases, and varied in topic, I felt like this collection focused more on shock value rather than to try to engage the reader in a meaningful way even if the stories were short. Although the writing style felt familiar, I thought the stories for the most part were quite unsettling, not at all what I was expecting after really enjoying the author's first two full length novels.
Rating - 3/5 stars
NOTE: This eGalley was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review,