Review of “Piercing” by Ryu Murakami


As confusing as this might be to some readers, as far as literature goes I don’t have a favourite genre or style. I will read anything provided it is well written and interesting. Just like in music I might have a preference for rock but I will identify with anything melodious.

I don’t remember if Junichiro Tanizaki came first and that led me onto the Horror or if it was the other way around but one of my favourite go to genres is Japanese Fiction. I might have mentioned this before but I love Tanizaki for his smooth and subtle writing style which is as good as you can get for mature and ambient writing with no frills. I like Japanese authors because they form clean lines with their writing, much like a good Kinomo! One day I’ll write at length about Tanizaki if time permits but right now I’d like to cross the street to the aforementioned Japanese Horror.

A few years ago I came across Natsuo Kirino and “Grotesque,” a chilling book about murdered prostitutes and I once again came to appreciate the laconic skills of Japanese authors. Allow me also to note that even though I’d love nothing more than to read them in the language in which they were intended to be read, I am unable currently so I have to make do with translations. The quality of all the Japanese books I’ve read so far has been quite excellent so I’m led to believe the translations are good.

This week’s title, to finally get to the point, was “Piercing” by Ryu Murakami. Piercing is a short and poignant book about a seemingly balanced family man who after some sleepless nights realizes he has raging fantasies about stabbing his baby girl with an ice pick. In order to avoid this fate he decides he needs to focus his attention somewhere else and concludes that the best avenue for his drive is to stab a woman. He gives his wife and company an excuse, takes the week off work and settles into a hotel in the business district where prostitutes abound.

He plans the murder meticulously and after a quick test run he puts his plan in motion. Right from the start and while he tries to order things in his mind we find that far from the balanced individual, Kawashima is in fact a deeply troubled person who is plagued by a rather dark past initiated by an abusive mother.

On the day of the plan Kawashima orders a prostitute to his room and everything that could go wrong does. In a fated twist, his intended victim is quite unpredictable and puts several dents in his plan as the night unfolds. I won’t add spoilers this time, but suffice it to say that Murakami writes both of the characters in this book masterfully and explores their off kilter psychological universes so brilliantly that you would never question the veracity of their souls.

Though I’ve read a lot of horror and similar genres I can honestly say this book was one of the most deeply disturbing, yet thoroughly enjoyable reads I’ve experienced.

And this concludes tonight’s bulletin!