Welcome to another blog post! A few weeks ago I got into reading a lot of books by Asian authors and it has really been a learning experience. This book is one of those where it seems like time do not pass for the characters but it does. It is very calm to read, you follow character on their day to day life which doesn’t seem vey different to yours. The relatability of these characters is what, I think, make this sure a great book.
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Breast and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami
YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!!
Breasts and Eggs is written in two parts (not two stories as a lot of people seem to think). In part one which I have decided to conveniently call ‘Breasts’, we follow Natsuko who is a struggling writer living in Tokyo, she has never produced anything and she is barely hanging on with her finances, her older sister Makiko (who works at a bar as a hostess) and Makiko’s teenage daughter, Midoriko who she has been raising alone.
Makiko and Midoriko visit Natsuko in Tokyo. One can generally assume that they come together because of the companionship, but that was not all. Makiko, who has lost a lot of weight since Natsuko last saw her, wants to get a boob job (yes, yes, that is where the breasts come from). While Natsuko is baffled at her sister’s lack of direction, I mean, they barely have enough money to eat but she wants to go spend what she does have on her breasts. While this was happening we get to know Midoriko who has followed her mother to Tokyo, she quiets sits in the corner reading books off Natsuko’s shelf. She has not spoken for months despite everything that her mother does.
Breasts focuses a lot on body autonomy, self-acceptance, body dysmorphia, stigmatization of sex work and much more. I really enjoyed Meiko’s writing in this first part, it was unhindered and eye-opening.
Then in the second part which I have uncreatively named Eggs. This is 8 years after the events of Breasts, here we follow Natsuko who has published a book that has been well receiving by the public and has gained a lot of buzz on social media. She has a lot more money than she knows what she can do with but now her anxiety of life kicks in. Not just the ending of hers but that she would have no one to spend the rest of her life with. She does not like sex like her peers seem to do. She does not understand the craze, she has not been able to form any solid attachment but she wants a child. She looks into artificial insemination but in Japan, you have to be a married couple for you to be able to receive one.
This part is filled with different people she comes across, friends she made and lost, even creepy guys that she hoped would donate their sperm. I think for me the most memorable person she had conversations with was Yuriko. Her view of child-bearing might be a bit radical but not necessarily untrue. I think the best way to describe her view is with a quote from the book itself
“Why do people see no harm in having children? They do it with smiles on their faces, as if it’s not an act of violence. You force this other being into the world, this brings that never asked to be born. You do this absurd thing because that’s what you want for yourself, and that doesn’t may any sense”
I see exactly what she means but I do not completely agree. I am of the opinion that unless the pregnancy was unexpected and unprepared for, whoever is reaching to have a child should be ready to provide what that affords. It is not always easy and a lot of parents cannot provide this but I am yet to meet a parent who isn’t ready to make such provisions if they could.
“Once you have children, you can’t unhave them”. So be prepared for the new life you crave.
Eggs highlight the expectation society has of women and our desire is different for everyone. I really enjoyed this book and I highlight recommend it. I am happy that she got what she wanted.
I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for reading.