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Revenge: Stories

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An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Elsewhere, an accomplished surgeon is approached by a cabaret singer, whose beautiful appearance belies the grotesque condition of her heart. And while the surgeon’s jealous lover vows to kill him, a violent envy also stirs in the soul of a lonely craftsman. Desire meets with impulse and erupts, attracting the attention of the surgeon’s neighbor---who is drawn to a decaying residence that is now home to instruments of human torture. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders---their fates converge in an ominous and darkly beautiful web.

Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge is a master class in the macabre that will haunt you to the last page.

176 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 1998

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About the author

Yōko Ogawa

139 books3,528 followers
Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子) was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya. Since 1988, she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Professor and his Beloved Equation has been made into a movie. In 2006 she co-authored „An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics“ with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a dialogue on the extraordinary beauty of numbers.

A film in French, "L'Annulaire“ (The Ringfinger), directed by Diane Bertrand, starring Olga Kurylenko and Marc Barbé, was released in France in June 2005 and subsequently made the rounds of the international film festivals; the film, some of which is filmed in the Hamburg docks, is based in part on Ogawa's "Kusuriyubi no hyōhon“ (薬指の標本), translated into French as "L'Annulaire“ (by Rose-Marie Makino-Fayolle who has translated numerous works by Ogawa, as well as works by Akira Yoshimura and by Ranpo Edogawa, into French).

Kenzaburō Ōe has said, 'Yōko Ogawa is able to give expression to the most subtle workings of human psychology in prose that is gentle yet penetrating.' The subtlety in part lies in the fact that Ogawa's characters often seem not to know why they are doing what they are doing. She works by accumulation of detail, a technique that is perhaps more successful in her shorter works; the slow pace of development in the longer works requires something of a deus ex machina to end them. The reader is presented with an acute description of what the protagonists, mostly but not always female, observe and feel and their somewhat alienated self-observations, some of which is a reflection of Japanese society and especially women's roles within in it. The tone of her works varies, across the works and sometimes within the longer works, from the surreal, through the grotesque and the--sometimes grotesquely--humorous, to the psychologically ambiguous and even disturbing.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,060 reviews
Profile Image for Nicole.
440 reviews13.4k followers
January 23, 2021
Wystarczą mi dwie litery, aby opisać tę książkę.
Profile Image for Kris.
175 reviews1,445 followers
June 3, 2013
Yoko Ogawa has made a name for herself as a writer who can unsettle her readers with her precise, detailed, impassive prose. Two of her previously published books, Hotel Iris: A Novel and The Diving Pool: Three Novellas, introduce themes of unsettled families, unhealthy relationships between characters and food, and sado-masochism. (Another of her novels, The Housekeeper and the Professor, is a much gentler story, showing Ogawa's range as a writer.) In Revenge: Stories, Ogawa revisits her earlier themes in an elegantly macabre collection of eleven linked stories. Ogawa slowly and exquisitely shows her readers the perverse side of human relationships, almost as if she's moving a log to show us what is crawling underneath. In many ways, her stories are all the more effective -- and terrifying -- because of their bland settings. They could be taking place in Japan, or the US. For all you know, they are unfolding right next door to you.....

My longer review, which was posted at the California Literary Review http://calitreview.com/35422, is included below.

Yoko Ogawa is a household name in Japan. She has published over 20 books, short story collections, novels, and works of non-fiction. She has won five prestigious literary awards in Japan, and in 2008 was awarded the Shirley Jackson Award for “The Diving Pool,” a novella contained in the collection The Diving Pool. Only four of her works have been translated into English. Her most recent short story collection, Revenge, is likely to garner her attention from English-speaking fans of literary fiction, Japanese fiction, and horror alike. The collection has been described repeatedly as “Japanese Gothic,” a label which captures some of the atmosphere of ominous mystery in the stories, but which fails to convey the sense of almost sterile anonymity of her characters, or the precision with which Ogawa slowly builds a sense of horror to a crescendo by the precise description and accrual of detail after detail. Ogawa begins by showing her readers the apparently boring, normal face of human society, and then slowly lets this face of normality slide back to reveal decomposition, death, and emptiness.

Ogawa is masterful at depicting a seemingly normal scene with a tinge of fear that all may not be as bland and routine as it first appears. She establishes this atmosphere in the opening paragraphs of the first story, “Afternoon at the Bakery”:
It was a beautiful Sunday. The sky was a cloudless dome of sunlight. Out on the square, leaves fluttered in a gentle breeze along the pavement. Everything seemed to glimmer with a faint luminescence: the roof of the ice-cream stand, the faucet on the drinking fountain, the eyes of a stray cat, even the base of the clock tower covered with pigeon droppings.
Families and tourists strolled through the square, enjoying the weekend. Squeaky sounds could be heard from a man off in the corner, who was twisting balloon animals. A circle of children watched him, entranced. Nearby, a woman sat on a bench knitting. Somewhere a car horn sounded. A flock of pigeons burst into the air, and startled a baby who began to cry. The mother hurried over to gather the child in her arms.
You could gaze at this perfect picture all day—an afternoon bathed in light and comfort—and perhaps never notice a single detail out of place, or missing.

As in Ogawa’s other writing, such as The Diving Pool, food becomes a focus for displaced love, but holds within it not a substitute for human affection and closeness, but excess without the possibility of satiety. In “Fruit Juice,” the narrator is invited by a classmate to have dinner in a French restaurant with her and her father, whom she has never met before. After the dinner, the two classmates come across an abandoned post office. They break in to find it filled with kiwis:
Indeed, they were kiwis, just like the ones they sell at the grocery store. But the scene before us was grotesque and dizzying. We moved slowly into the room, which was cluttered with shelves and desks and cardboard boxes. A pencil sharpener, a red ink pad, and a dusty scale sat on the counter. But the rest of the space was filled with kiwis, enormous heaps of them. The air was both sweet and sour. She reached down to pick up a piece of fruit. I watched, afraid she might disturb the pile and bring it tumbling down on us.
The kiwi was perfect, not a bruise or a blemish anywhere.
“Don’t they look delicious?” she said, gazing at the mountain of fruit. “More than you could ever eat!” Then she bit into the one in her hand. I could hear her teeth sink into the flesh.
For a long time, she stood there eating kiwis, one after another. She consumed them like a starving child, dizzy with hunger. Her carefully ironed blouse and her beautiful hands grew sticky. I could only watch and wait until she ate through her sadness.

Ogawa changes narrators from story to story, but they all share a sense of isolation and displacement from their surroundings and fellow characters. In the third story in the collection, “Old Mrs. J,” the narrator describes her peculiar relationship with her landlady. The apartment is located on the top of a hill with an idyllic view of the town below. The hill is covered with fruit trees, including kiwis; “The kiwis in particular grew so thick that on moonlit nights when the wind was blowing, the whole hillside would tremble as though covered with a swarm of dark green bats. At times I found myself thinking they might fly away at any moment.” Mrs. J is even more unsettling than the kiwis, as she makes frequent visits to the narrator’s apartment, carrying gifts from her garden that grow more and more peculiar:
“Look at this!” Mrs. J called as she came barging into my apartment one day.
“What is it?” I asked. I was in the kitchen making potato salad for dinner.
“A carrot,” she said, holding it up with obvious pride.
“But what a strange shape,” I said, pausing over the potatoes. It was indeed odd: a carrot in the shape of a hand.
It was plump, like a baby’s hand, and perfectly formed: five fingers, with a thick thumb and a longer finger in the middle. The greens looked like a scrap of lace decorating the wrist.
“I’d like you to have it,” Mrs. J said.

As the story continues, the narrator feels ever more trapped by her proximity to Mrs. J, perplexed by her landlady’s increasingly odd behavior, and unsettled by the carrot hands that proliferate in Mrs. J’s garden.

As the collection continues, the details in Ogawa’s stories become even more macabre. In several stories, a Museum of Torture figures prominently. The collection of torture implements, all which the caretaker swears have been used, is held in a mansion, where dining room tables and overstuffed armchairs share their space with chains, stocks, and other torture devices. Ogawa sets the scene in the following passage from “Welcome to the Museum of Torture”:
We were standing in the living room. The furniture included a pair of couches; a claw-foot cabinet; a long, narrow table like something from a church; a rocking chair; and a record cabinet. There was a real wood-burning fireplace at the end of the room.
It was a fancy room for a rich man, the kind of place I’d like to live in myself. But there was one strange thing about it: every bare space was covered with some devise for torture.
They were crammed in the cabinet and lined up on the table, stacked in the bay window, on the mantel, under the chairs, behind the curtains. Even hanging on the walls.

At this late stage in Revenge, Ogawa has moved horror directly into a home. The characters do not have to break into an abandoned post office or dig in a garden to find the macabre. It is on display in plain sight, used just as a table or a chair or a record player.

Throughout Revenge, Ogawa’s technique of linking her stories together, first by small details (for example, a bakery selling strawberry shortcakes makes several appearances), and later by subsequent revisiting of characters and places, provides an additional sense of growing tension and fear. As the perspective and point of view change from story to story, the reader feels ground shifting constantly. The result is a collection that is unsettling, destabilizing, and alienating, written with a spare elegance that makes Ogawa’s conjuring of gruesome details all the more effective. In Revenge, Ogawa introduces us to the ultimate horror, not confined in a haunted house, but surrounding us every day.
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.2k followers
December 15, 2022
The real horror story was the friends we made in the other horror stories along the way.

Get it? Because this is a collection of interconnected horror stories?

Ah, we have fun.


Do you ever think about how being alive is a constantly violent and dark and horrifying experience, and that we only forget that because we have to in order to function in a world that perceives that as normal?

If not, this book will remind you of that. And if so, what a nightmare you have in store! But in a cool way.

This collection of stories about darkness and tragedy, each of which is connected with the others in an increasingly brilliant web, is probably the most amusing and exciting way to remember that.

And the least dangerous!

Bottom line: A pretty one of a kind book!

tbr review

been reading too much romance. i need something with the subtitle "eleven dark tales" to restore my badass image
Profile Image for Jaidee.
581 reviews1,106 followers
May 20, 2020
4.13 "provocative, surreal, interconnected" stars !!

The Pleasant Surprise Award of 2019

This short story collection by Ms. Ogawa, published in 1998 was highly creative and somewhat bizarre. Themes of disconnection, hurt and various forms of revenge permeate this group of stories. Each story is linked to others and it is difficult and challenging to tease out which ones are based on reality and which are imaginal or perhaps even supernatural. All but one story ranged from excellent to superb. That in itself is a remarkable feat. In my usual fashion I will name the story, give a rating and state an impression or snippet.

Afternoon at the Bakery: a dead son and strawberry shortcake...fragmented and eerie (4 stars)

Fruit Juice: A young woman meets her politician father as her mother is dying...a hapless friend tags along (4 stars)

Old Mrs J: kiwis, carrots and hands...oh my ! (4.5 stars)

The Little Dustman: a tiny stepmom and a trip to the zoo...(4.5 stars)

Lab Coats: a very pretty secretary is oh so sociopathic (5 stars)...favorite in collection

Sewing for the Heart: don't cross an artisan (4 stars)

Welcome to the Museum of Torture: can a witness also torture and maim? (4 stars)

The Man who Sold Braces: the joys and sorrows of an eccentric uncle (5 stars)...2nd favorite

The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger: A jealous housewife is soothed by a dying Tiger (4.5 stars)

Tomatoes and the Full Moon: deja vu over and over again (4 stars)

Poison Plants: a lecherous old woman and her protege...didn't buy this one (2 stars)

I will definitely read more by Ms. Ogawa !!
Profile Image for Jamie.
224 reviews118 followers
April 15, 2017
One of my favorite books this year. Every story was dark and had a somber feel to them, all the while, every short story linking perfectly to one another.
Profile Image for Robin.
484 reviews2,618 followers
January 25, 2020
Last year, I found a new literary love - Yōko Ogawa. I adored her dystopian, poetic The Memory Police. Then I was blown away by her ruthless Hotel Iris. I love how she is able and willing to create meaningful stories with a darkly wise perspective, and without a trace of North American squeamishness. So I wasted little time to pick up her short story collection Revenge.

The collection is written in her trademark simple elegance (and translated by the marvellous Stephen Snyder). And it's kinda "Olive Kitteridge-y" in that the stories are all linked to each other, even though they are stories that could stand on their own. All stories are disturbing and strange, and reading them is sort of like watching a thousand dominoes fall, one after the other, one hitting the next, causing an avalanche of weirdness. (A child folded up in a refrigerator, carrots that look like hands, a coat made from a tiger's fur, strawberry shortcake for a dead boy's birthday.)

Well, maybe not an avalanche. Because an avalanche implies power and high drama. Even if they are haunting and strange, these stories didn't have the impact for me that I experienced in her longer fiction. I was waiting for the bite, and the "horror" that I was promised, the nasty pinch on the ass that makes you bleed... and didn't get it. Believe me though, I still enjoyed spending time in her pages. There are a LOT worse places to find yourself at the end of the day.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Henk.
849 reviews
July 14, 2020
From the mundane to the creepy in eleven tales of loss of, and separation from, loved ones
The prose was unremarkable, as were the plot and characters, but there was an icy current under her words, and I found myself wanting to plunge into it again and again.

From a story centered around a mother trying to order strawberry shortcakes for the birthday of her son (who is coincidentally dead, having suffocated in a refrigerator) to a landlord who turns out to be a murderer, the tales in Revenge have a way of turning the mundane in the creepy through plain but effective language. All stories are interconnected in at least two ways to other stories in the bundles, reminiscent to Ghostwritten of David Mitchell, if not driving to one overarching conclusion as this novel.

Loss or separation from loved ones, often by death or divorce, seems to be the heart of the stories in this bundle. Revenge does not seem to be the most accurate of translation for the title. Getting lost or being lost comes back a lot and serves as a catalyst to sometimes almost supernatural, or at least improbable, events unfolding.

An example of the dark nature of the tales is included below:
At fifteen, I took an overdose of sleeping pills. I must have had a good reason for wanting to kill myself, but I’ve forgotten what it was. Perhaps I was just fed up with everything. At any rate, I slept for eighteen hours straight, and when I woke up I was completely refreshed. My body felt so empty and purified that I wondered whether I had, in fact, died. But no one in my family even seemed to have noticed I had attempted suicide.

Only thing I liked less was the use of I perspective narrators in all stories, making it sometimes very hard to get a feel of the individuality of the narrators, their voices are quite the same and even their genders are only known halfway in most of the tales. In an interesting take on this, in Japanese the verbs and in the way someone is addressed the gender is much more clear.
Also the setting in a sense is very generic, I initially had a kind of Northern European vibe with it (maybe due to clocktower being mentioned and having just seen Kiki’s Delivery Service), even more reinforced by a delay with a train which should be highly uncommon in Japan
And there is something overdramatic in some sentences, like:
Everyone I know has died. My past is full of ghosts.

But overall the bundle kept me really engaged, I loved the interconnections and some of the poetic and disturbing images Yōko Ogawa paints: like a child in a refrigerator, an abandoned building full of kiwi's, a rotting strawberry cheesecake or carrots shaped like hands.

Profile Image for Karolina.
Author 10 books895 followers
November 24, 2020
Kocham "Ukochane równanie profesora", ale według mnie Ogawa osiąga mistrzostwo nie w ciepłych powieściach, a w creepy klimatach, w książkach, które wyciągają na światło to, co z reguły wolimy ukryć, ale robi to w taki sposób, że nie da się przestać tego czytać, bo nawet w tym mroku znajduje piękno. Zastanawiałam się długo, czy i jak uda się oddać klimat 寡黙な死骸みだらな弔い po polsku - według mnie Ania Karpiuk wywiązała się z tego znakomicie.

Jedno jest pewne - truskawki na zawsze będą kojarzyć mi się chyba tylko z tą książką.
Profile Image for Ania.
155 reviews1,643 followers
January 17, 2022
a r c y d z i e ł o
Wspaniały zbiór, wzajemnie uzupełniających się specyficznie pięknych opowiadań. Nie spodziewałam się po tej książce absolutnie niczego, jednak z każdym zwrotem akcji, nawiązaniem do poprzedniego opowiadania, zakochiwałam się coraz bardziej.
Profile Image for Sofia.
258 reviews6,449 followers
August 16, 2021
Revenge tries too hard to be horrific. Following the stories of seemingly unrelated people and the gruesome events that tie them all together, it would seem as if this is the type of story that leaves you wide awake in the middle of the night. But it's not. Is it disturbing? Slightly. Seeing the mental health of others deteriorate before your eyes is terrifying - but it's just not scary enough. I came looking for a horror novel, and got a rather poetic collection of short stories. And I'm definitely not complaining.

Yōko Ogawa's prose is concise, intriguing, and beautiful. I know from her other works that she's a talented storyteller, perfectly capable of capturing the reader from the very first sentence she spins. And yet this collection fell a bit flat for me.

The motives of each character were there, yes, but I failed to comprehend why, exactly, they were acting as they did. Why did she want to torture her boyfriend? Why did he want to be in the possession of someone's beating heart? The perspectives started to blur for me. Every character seemed diabolical in the same twisted way. Which was perfectly fine, at first. Ogawa's subtle way of relating horrific incidents is morbidly fascinating.

Revenge relies too heavily on the dramatic endings of each short story, which are the only real terrifying or grisly parts. The stories are almost comforting, until someone is suddenly murdered in a ghastly way for no good reason. And this caused the whole book to fall apart.

There are many adjectives I would use to describe this novel. Genius is one of them. The connections cunningly woven between characters? Stunning. But the short stories themselves? Underwhelming.

The hints were heavy-handed, and the book as a whole relies on the shock aspect more than anything.

3 stars for the simple prose and creative ending.
Profile Image for JimZ.
1,019 reviews458 followers
December 8, 2019
This was fantastic. Read it in one sitting... It was so good/interesting how she weaved these 11 stories together. The stories were separate from each other (they were standalone stories) but connected. I find the concept very appealing....if any other readers could tell what any other short story collections where I can find this writing style I would appreciate it! I got the novel, The Wonder Years (Lauren Acampora) under the promise of a similar style (intersecting lives of one small town...these interwoven stories, but this was 100X better.

And here's a very nice and insightful interview of Ms. Ogawa given in The New Yorker in 2005: http://yoko-ogawa.e-monsite.com/pages...

Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books781 followers
January 22, 2020
I admire writers who can write such deceptively simple sentences and with no exposition make everything clear that they want to be clear. Ogawa, at least with these stories, is one of those writers; yet she doesn't want everything to be clear, another thing I admire. I especially loved her subtle, wicked sense of humor, even about herself, or at least about writers.

Each story from the first to the last is linked either by a mysterious happening or, in some cases, what seems like the passing of a baton in a relay, each story ratcheting up the tension, until the last story turns us back to the first in what almost seems like an Escher painting. I'm thinking specifically of his "Drawing Hands," as there are meta elements to some of these stories as well.

Every story is told from the first person point-of-view, though each narrator is a different person. At times you're not even sure right away whether the speaker is male or female, adding to the unsettling feelings.

I will be reading more by Ogawa.
Profile Image for Brina.
899 reviews4 followers
March 2, 2020
I took advantage of leap year 2020 to get a head start on my women’s history month reads. In the past year reading books by women around the world has been lacking, so I decided to make this year’s lineup more diverse. All through March, I will be reading books written by women, mainly about women, some fiction, and many biographies and memoirs. Over the last five years one of the books that sticks out for me is The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. This touching story is centered around two things I thoroughly enjoy- baseball and a boy who loves both the sport and math. With that in mind, I decided to read another book by the same author, only this time the genre changed to mystery. I have seen people include Revenge on reading through the decades challenges as their 1990s selection, and the book has gotten many positive reviews. With that in mind, I decided to read Ogawa’s short mystery.

Revenge is only 160 pages in length and a series of interlocking vignettes rather than a full length mystery. Had I known that, I probably would have passed on this book as I favor longer whodunnits. The writing along with the translation by Stephen Snyder are impeccable just a tad dark for my liking. The premise of these tales takes place in one town over a course of what could be days, weeks, or months. The author allows the reader to decide that for herself. None of the protagonists knows of the others existence until they pop up in another story, so one has to read carefully in case they miss a detail that could occur later on. The first story begins with a woman at a bakery. She is buying two strawberry shortcakes for her son’s birthday, which sounds like a touching way to begin the book, giving me the false impression that Revenge was much like Ogawa’s other book that I loved. Much to my chagrin, the woman’s son is dead, having asphyxiated in an empty refrigerator at age six. He will always be six, and twelve years later she hasn’t gotten past his death choosing to honor the birthday with the same cake that she bought on that fateful day. With ten more vignettes, I knew that this might be tough going.

Ogawa’s subjects are so far fetched to me but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. There is the love triangle of a doctor, his wife, and lover. We find him stabbed to death in the lover’s apartment because she had grown impatient with him to leave the wife. It turns out in another story that this doctor was a world renown respiratory surgeon. He was going to perform surgery on a cabaret singer whose heart had been outside of her body when he turned up dead. Later we find out that she had been murdered as well. This news is so far fetched and yet it keeps popping up in the other vignettes. The only story that wasn’t too macabre, only far fetched, for me took place at a resort hotel featuring a travel writer. A lady donated tomatoes to the hotel kitchen, and the fruit made its presence felt in all of the items ordered by the travel writer. This lady and her black Labrador keep following the writer around, making him feel a tad uncomfortable. She was even his audience of one while he was swimming. Sorry to say, but if I saw a total stranger staring at me swim, I would be calling security. Even though no one actually died in this particular vignette, it was just a little strange.

What completely downgraded this book for me was deaths of dolphins and a bengal tiger. Between that and the death of a six year old, I was done. Having kids and cats, having both die in the same book had me realizing that maybe this is not the book for me. Maybe it is the cultural gap between Japan and the United States. Maybe something was lost in translation although this I highly doubt because Snyder is well regarded as a translator. Regardless, I know Yoko Ogawa has been lauded for her ability to tell mysterious tales. With my over active imagination and my dislike of the dark and macabre, I will stick to cozy mysteries or at least the series that I know best. As for Ogawa, I will stick to her heartwarming tales of baseball. If she wrote another book featuring the characters in that book, provided it is not too macabre, I know I would read it. Yoko Ogawa is a fine author, just Revenge was not my taste.

3 stars (2- story, 4- writing, 4.5 - translation)
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68.1k followers
July 9, 2021
Japanese Gothic

Revenge begins and ends in old, discarded refrigerators. The theme of fruit - growing, discarded, consumed and going bad - pervades the text. Characters, bizarre in their motivation and behaviour, appear and dissolve like vapour. Events become self-referential but which text precedes the other is unclear. The atmosphere is spectral but not supernatural.

Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor convinced me that she is not just a writer but also a complex and subtle intellectual. That there is a plan to Revenge and a key to understanding this plan therefore is therefore certain. Without this key, the work is intriguing but incomplete. In The Housekeeper and the Professor, it was the mathematical Euler’s Theorem. But what such a key could be in Revenge is, at least for the moments, beyond me.

Anyone with insights, please get in touch.
Profile Image for Lynne King.
490 reviews657 followers
July 4, 2013

It was the title that struck me first of all, that of "Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales” and so on a whim I purchased it. I had never heard of Yoko Ogawa before.

What an extraordinary selection of eleven short stories and what an imagination the author has.

One of my two favourites was "Old Mrs J" and what a lot she has to hide. For a start, the death of her husband is quite a mystery.

Imagine “a carrot in the shape of a hand”. Well I kept on thinking about that and wondered what could possibly result from this. Well to begin with, there’s the headline in the paper one day:

“Curious carrots! Hand-shaped and fresh from Granny’s garden!”

And the ending. Well that was superb and yes, despite reading this short story, I do still love eating carrots in whatever form they come.

“Lab Coats” is rather macabre, medical and so I enjoyed this but what a dreadful death is described in it. It’s amazing what you can find in a lab coat, say a tongue for example.

As for “Sewing for the Heart”, well many a true word is spoken in jest! What a cliché but how appropriate here. And as for the poor hamster; well that was sad.

“Welcome to the Museum of Torture” and all the rest of the short stories are excellent but what is remarkable is that there is a continuous flow from one story to another and that is so skilful in itself. “The Man Who Sold Braces” for example is followed on by “The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger” and they both have the “tiger" as a common denominator. Also the so important final sentence or paragraph to each story that says it all.

“The Tomatoes and the Full Moon” is the most intriguing story, however, in the book.

“I checked in at the front desk and picked up my key, but when I opened the door, I found a strange woman and her dog in my room.”

A mistaken room, number 101? A woman with a bundle, a black Labrador, some tomatoes and theft of a manuscript. It was called “Afternoon at the Bakery”. It is so simple but so meaningful.

I’m going to change my mind. This is indeed my favourite story in this collection.

Death, murder, suspicion, blood, mystery, poignancy, libraries, etc. flow throughout these remarkable stories, and I think they’re brilliant.

I will definitely purchase the “Hotel Iris” by this author.
Profile Image for Liong.
131 reviews80 followers
November 3, 2022
This book consists of 11 short stories.

The stories are surreal and have surprises.

These stories are likely related but irrelevant. Some of the scenes are repeated but the stories were fresh. A bit confused here... hahaha

You have to read it to understand what I mean.

Another good book from Yoko Ogawa.

Profile Image for lavenderews.
509 reviews721 followers
December 1, 2020
Książka o samotności, śmierci oraz żałobie napisana w tak piękny i przejmujący sposób, że budzi w czytelniku wiele emocji jednocześnie. Fenomenalna, poruszająca, genialnie przemyślana. Każde z tych opowiadań jest wyjątkowe, a zarazem niewyobrażalnie spójne z pozostałymi. Nie potrafię opisać słowami tego, co przeżywałam podczas lektury tej książki. Czułam ogromy niepokój, a przy tym wielką bliskość z bohaterami. W tych opowiadaniach odnalazłam coś, czego szukałam przez bardzo długi czas. Jeśli można znaleźć piękno w mroku i cierpieniu, to autorce udało się to zrobić doskonale.
Profile Image for Anish Kohli.
182 reviews257 followers
January 4, 2018
This is a BR. Nooooo. Not a Buddy Read. Did you notice the “is”? It’s a Buddy Review!! With the most awesome Sillyhead and it was her idea too! She’s pretty great dumb like that!! We read the book like a month apart but we are posting our reviews together today. In a way I am glad we’re starting both our booky years in this fashion. May there be several more such reviews and reads together!

Here goes the review:

You know what’s so wonderful about being here on GR? I mean, I know there are like a million reasons but for me the most important one is to be able to discover books. Not just through GR but through people on GR. People who you’ve never spoken to before. I could read in solitude for a 100 years but still not pick books like this one. It came as a recommendation from Nishith and I picked it up on faith.
Little did I know I would spend days trying not to finish the 160 paged book I had in my hands. I read it slow on purpose! This book was a damn treat! A huge shoutout to the man who suggested this. Thank you Nishith/Horus. Forever grateful. Although stop changing your name! :P

I don’t really know how to review this book bcz this is so different from anything I have ever read. This is a whole new style. Here is my feeble attempt at reviewing it.
“I’m buying them for my son. Today is his birthday.”
“Really? Well, I hope it’s a happy one. How old is he?”
“Six. He’ll always be six. He’s dead.”
This book is a first of its kind for me. It has no character names, no locations, no dates, no times, and no specifics of any kind. It’s one of THE MOST pure forms of storytelling I have ever read. I can sum up my review in just one quote from this very book itself.
“The prose was unremarkable, as were the plot and characters, but there was an icy current running under her words, and I found myself wanting to plunge into it again and again.”
There is a coldness in this book. A feeling of detachment towards life that comes with life being a bitch to you, taking away something from you that you couldn’t ever bear to lose. A loss that makes you indifferent to many things that should matter and curious about things that should be morbid.
This book is an embodiment of all that it is to be human. Being a human is not about being happy and mentally healthy. It’s not the only way. It’s the way we approve of. To be all smiles and to care about things and people. To act a certain way. To conform. Those who do not fit the box are branded as misfits, weird, crazy, mentally unfit and discarded. The outcasts. We are accepting of only the ones who can keep their darkness in check and hidden. What about the ones who are beaten by their demons? The ones who lost to the darkness and would rather stay there now. The ones who are lost? The ones who are okay being lost. Food for thought!

This book is a collection of short stories, or so it seems at the start. It’s amazing how one by one the author connects all the short stories, weaving them into one beautiful piece that comes together to form a hauntingly perfect picture. Perfect bcz it is not untrue. It’s possible. Very possible. It could all be happening somewhere out there, maybe even in your country, or your own town. Maybe it’s happening next door. Or maybe it is your story. It could be. After all, you are just as human. And what’s more scary than humans? More pitiful even? More needy? More scared?
““Lean on me,” he would whisper in my ear, and those few words had the power to make me utterly content.”
What’s comforting? The known. Wouldn’t you say? For me, atleast, it is true. When I picked this book, on a random recommendation, no less, I was afraid of what I might be getting into. If I would end up hating the book or writing a ranty review. As I read, I was comforted by a very particular feeling that I have come to love. It is something that I have only ever read in SK’s works before. That feeling of coldness. The knowledge of the fact that we carry light and dark both within ourselves. And we are just as capable of being monsters as we are of being angels. Someone’s savior is another’s tormentor.
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us. And sometimes, they win. - SK”
This book is written in first person POV and it has a sad and dark undertone. The feeling of loss and gloom is rich and it is wonderfully done. The first person POV works like a cherry on top bcz it makes the stories that much more personal. And I personally feel that the anonymity this book has, it only adds to the magnificence of it all. You don’t get to connect to the characters which is why you can focus completely on the story and the feeling of it. The feeling of helplessness and despair. You can feel the bond that darkness can forge. The understanding that it can bring.
“The reason she was crying didn’t matter to me. Perhaps there was no reason at all. Her tears had that sort of purity. I realized she was finally letting flow the tears she could not cry at the post office, and that this sadness was coming to her peacefully from the distant past.”
The best part about this book for me, personally, is the thing that I practice in order to forgive someone who’s wronged me. It’s a practice that I couldn’t put in words or was not even conscious of until I read it in this book.
“I would unearth memories, beginning in childhood, of places and occasions when someone had hurt me. I found it somehow comforting to think that his coldness was in no way special or unique.”
This is right up in the top five reads of this year. I feel so glad to have taken this book on faith and given it a fair chance. I did myself a service. Completely amazing and enjoyable for such a short read and I would suggest this book to probably everyone who might like a dark read. Pick it up and dive right in! Who knows, you may find something of yourself in these lovely words and stories.
“The door that would not open no matter how hard you pushed, no matter how long you pounded on it. The screams no one heard. Darkness, hunger, pain. Slow suffocation.”
Profile Image for Jr Bacdayan.
211 reviews1,680 followers
March 26, 2017
This is a fascinating collection that weaves together the lives of broken people unable to cope with lingering memories and pains. United by a sense of commonality in the quest of gaining triumph against their personal devils, the stories move hauntingly, enveloped with an off-kilter atmosphere, told with a chilling precision often eerie. There is even a dreadful sense of self-awareness in the collection when one story would be read or alluded to in another. Ogawa also manages to playfully insert self critique in one of them saying: “The prose was unremarkable, as were the plot and characters, but there was an icy current running under her words, and I found myself wanting to plunge into it again and again.” Is this accurate? Probably, however for a vengeful theme I expected a bit more.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews875 followers
August 12, 2019
Revenge is a gentle and unsettling collection of interconnected short stories focused mainly on death and grief and an inner darkness that plagues its eleven different narrators. Both melancholy and macabre in tone, these stories range from heart-wrenching to disturbing, each narrated in an eerily calm and poised tone. This was absolutely engrossing and I'm keen to check out more of Yoko Ogawa's work.
Profile Image for Yamna.
357 reviews116 followers
June 26, 2022
Re-read this book because I was missing some horror/revenge action and Yoko's Revenge is bound to serve that on a large, steaming platter

I am taking this book down to 4.5 stars because after re-reading it, I realized that there are minor errors/loopholes the authors did not address

Favourite of the year

Have you ever read a story and realized that it has the power to completely restructure your thoughts?
If only I had words to describe Revenge. But for the first time in a long, long while, I’ve realized I am speechless .

This book…where do I even start?

I’m buying them for my son. Today is his birthday.”
“Really? Well, I hope it’s a happy one. How old is he?”
“Six. He’ll always be six. He’s dead.”"

Before I delve into the review, allow me to give a shout out to ViratKaBichraBhai for this amazing recommendation. You rock, man!

Revenge is a series of stories, all very short and all interconnected in one way or the other. You can’t call it an anthology, you can’t call it one whole story. It’s just so out there that no one can cleverly categorize it. And this will be the first series of short stories where I can’t pick my favourite.
I also cannot forget the story or stop thinking about it. If I had the power to give awards to the author, I’d hand her all awards known to man for this masterpiece. And I won’t even hesitate in crowning her one of the best authors I have had the pleasure of learning from.

The story starts off with a brilliancy that has you amazed. The protagonist is in a bakery, she wants to get a cake for her boy and she can’t find anyone inside the shop to help her. A small conversation with another customer, an older woman, reveals the truth quoted above. And while you may find it sad, the author puts a shocking twist on it, later having our main character recreate her son’s final moments before his death to feel closer to him.

"The door that would not open no matter how hard you pushed, no matter how long you pounded on it. The screams no one heard. Darkness, hunger, pain. Slow suffocation"
And since the author knew this would ensure she had us, the story ends there.
And we start on with the next.

Although it can get frustrating for people to have just the minimal amount of information in any tale, the author spun her own magic within her book, making the storytelling so rich and so detailed that you find yourself constantly mesmerized.

"The reason she was crying didn’t matter to me. Perhaps there was no reason at all. Her tears had that sort of purity."

Throughout the book, we get introduced to a series of colourful characters; some were selfish, some were cruel, some had an evil hidden side, some had a softness that made your heart ache, and some, especially the ones in the last story, had an ethereal beauty to them, one that had you both startled and, surprisingly satisfied, when you reach the end.
I didn’t expect a story as short as 5 or 6 pages to have such complex features hidden between the words. And most of them are beautiful enough to be interpreted whatever way you want, in however way you want, and still be perfectly applicable to your own life.

"You may be thinking that a bag is just a thing in which to put other things. And you’re right, of course. But that’s what makes them so extraordinary. A bag has no intentions or desires of its own, it embraces every object that we ask it to hold. You trust the bag, and it, in return, trusts you. To me, a bag is patience; a bag is profound discretion."

When a story has the ability to make you ponder, it’s a given fact that it has the ability to encourage sentiment in the harshest of souls. It’s the way the author has struck a chord by narrating in such a way that you find yourself connecting with the characters, wondering about your own life and ultimately finding yourself falling in love with someone living thousands of miles away, with an ocean’s worth of talent hidden in her brain.

"I would unearth memories, beginning in childhood, of places and occasions when someone had hurt me. In that way, I believed, I would see that my pain was due not only to my husband but to the cruelty of countless others besides. I found it somehow comforting to think that his coldness was in no way special or unique."

It can be hard to argue that love can develop in between a few pages, but it’s a remarkable effort on the author’s part to invoke emotions in her characters with as few words as possible.

"The prose was unremarkable, as were the plot and characters, but there was an icy current running under her words, and I found myself wanting to plunge into it again and again."

And when all of the stories ended, and I was sitting there wondering how to interpret the last scene, how to complete the puzzle the author had helped me build from the first story, I realized that she had done the impossible; she had somehow woven enough charisma in her characters to have you admire them, despite hating them, and had somehow kept an element of mystery around her stories, so when you are at the last page, you find your brain completely spoiled, unable to be impressed by ordinary stories anymore.
And for that, I think she deserves all the literary awards and readers in the world.

"“Lean on me,” he would whisper in my ear, and those few words had the power to make me utterly content."
Profile Image for Marianna.
5 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2023
Dawno żadna książka nie wprawiła mnie w takie osłupienie jak ta
Profile Image for Vivi.
181 reviews28 followers
February 21, 2022
Jestem mile zaskoczona, że opowiadania są ze sobą powiązane w tak intrygujący sposób. Bardzo podobało mi się to uczucie takiego podskórnego niepokoju podczas czytania i uważam, że zakończenie jest świetne – historia zatoczyła koło. Myślę, że lepiej jest czytać tę książkę na raz, ponieważ opowiadania wypadają lepiej w całości niż oddzielnie, nie wszystkie bronią się samodzielnie. Pierwsze na pewno na długo zapadnie mi w pamięć, a na marchewki nigdy nie spojrzę tak samo
Profile Image for Introverticheart.
207 reviews187 followers
December 15, 2020
Mnogość bohaterów, creepy historii, a wszystko i wszyscy się ze sobą łączy.
Niektóre opowiadania wywołały u mnie gęsią skórkę, tak było, nie zmyślam !
Jak zwykle edytorsko fantastycznie i piękne tłumaczenie Anny Karpiuk!
Chce więcej!

I fakt, zakończenie troszkę nie wyszło, ale za tort truskawkowy wybaczę wiele
Profile Image for Iophil.
105 reviews57 followers
January 16, 2019
C'è un'idea, di primo acchito imbarazzante per uno scrittore, che Jorge Luis Borges ha trasformato in una possibilità davvero affascinante: il pensiero per cui, qualunque opera stesse per scrivere, fosse già stata scritta da qualcun altro.

È su questo interessante assunto, illustratoci dalla Ogawa nella sua postfazione, che si basa questa antologia di racconti: la scrittura non tanto come attività ex novo, quanto come riscoperta e rielaborazione di archetipi e sensazioni primigeni.
Elementi paradigmatici, che in un qualche modo giungono a noi filtrati e mediati dalla nostra esperienza e dagli autori in grado di penetrare nella nostra sensibilità. Scrittori speciali, in grado di comunicare con noi "raccontando questa storia incisa tanto tempo fa in una grotta segreta, da qualcuno dal volto e dal nome ignoti."
Io credo che anche la Ogawa possa rientrare in questo novero. Perché questo libro, a suo modo, è indubbiamente speciale.

Per sua stessa ammissione, la Ogawa vuole raccontarci il lutto, reinterpretandolo in maniera personale. Undici racconti che riconducono tutti alla tematica di riferimento, affrontandola di volta in volta da un'angolazione differente. Ci viene così mostrato un mosaico variegato, ma allo stesso tempo dotato di una sua intima coesione che ne rafforza il messaggio.

Uno degli aspetti più interessanti di questa raccolta è costituito appunto dalla possibilità di vederla come una sorta di "romanzo corale". Le varie storie sono collegate più o meno direttamente a tutte le altre, in un gioco di richiami e connessioni a volte evidenti, a volte celate abilmente nel testo.
Una ragnatela affascinante e inquietante, che destabilizza il lettore, facendogli apparire la realtà in cui si muovono questi indistinti personaggi come un recinto chiuso. Una piccola monade claustrofobica, che può rappresentare indifferentemente se stessa o il mondo intero.

Questo senso di oppressione è abilmente sfumato (ma non necessariamente mitigato) dalla prosa dell'autrice. Una scrittura nitida e glaciale nella sua precisione, apparentemente impersonale e insensibile, ma anche e soprattutto per questo più efficace e penetrante.
La Ogawa ci racconta, con la sua penna chirurgica, storie dai tratti macabri e sgradevoli, pervase in massima parte da un dolore che pare inevitabile. Ma questa levità formale della prosa mitiga le reazioni emotive del lettore: quello che potrebbe essere scioccante e traumatico ci trasmette più che altro una desolante tristezza. Il raccapriccio muta in un'indistinta malinconia.
Una forma di mimetismo letterario, perché anche i particolari più efferati o crudeli pervengono al lettore filtrati e smorzati da questa algida veste formale.

I personaggi si muovono come marionette, protagonisti di un gioco dal finale ineluttabile. Sempre indistinti e ambigui, sempre al limite tra lucidità e follia. Una follia soffusa, che non esplode mai in maniera eclatante, ma scivola subdolamente fra le mille interconnessioni di queste storie così peculiari, raccontate in modo da sembrare la pura e semplice normalità.
Personaggi anonimi, che potrebbero essere chiunque: nessuno in particolare oppure tutti noi. Perché è forse questo uno degli obiettivi della Ogawa, desumibile dalla postfazione che ho menzionato: raccontarci questo senso di precarietà che è in ognuno di noi. Una sensazione resa sfuggente e soffusa dall'atmosfera surreale di questi racconti, ma che resta senza dubbio la costante e il filo conduttore del libro.

In bilico sull'orlo, è un attimo cadere nell'abisso.
Volontariamente o meno.

I giudizi sui singoli racconti della raccolta:

Pomeriggio in pasticceria ★★★★
Succo di frutta ★★★★
La vecchia J ★★★★
Sandmännchen ★★★
Il camice ★★★ 1/2
La prova del cuore ★★★★★
Benvenuti al museo della tortura ★★★★ 1/2
Il venditore di busti ★★★★
L'ora estrema della tigre del Bengala ★★★★
Pomodori e luna piena ★★★ 1/2
Piante velenose ★★★ 1/2
Profile Image for jjuszkam.
44 reviews33 followers
January 30, 2022
w o w
nie mam pojęcia co powiedzieć. przez falę pozytywnych opinii sięgnęłam po nią i z niepozornych 170 stron powstało coś fenomenalnego.
nie spodziewałam się, że aż tak mną poruszy, po prostu cudowna
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