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Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

Four books that are a great introduction to Japanese literature


“Out” by Natsuo Kirino

“Out” follows four women who lead hard lives as wives and caretakers while working the night shift at a bento box factory. When Masako, a mother who feels alienated from her family, brutally murders her abusive husband, she seeks the help of her coworkers to hide the evidence of the murder. Killing is only a starting point as their plot turns into a terrifying path down into the violent crime underbelly of Tokyo.

Kirino’s award-winning feminist novel, “Out,” details a stark commentary about the pressures and prejudices of gender roles on women through a suspenseful crime story. 


“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Located in the back alleys of Tokyo, a mysterious cafe has been serving coffee for over a century. Rumor has it that the cafe serves more than just coffee – but also a chance to travel back in time.

Four customers visit the cafe, with the hopes of seeing if those rumors are true. However, time travel isn’t as easy as it seems and the cafe has a few rules they must follow, specifically, customers’ time trips can only last as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.

Kawaguchi’s internationally best-selling novel tells a heartwarming, unique, and mysterious story that explores themes of regret and the importance of living in the present, leading to answering the age-old question: If you could go back to your past, what would you change?

“Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Murata

“Convenience Store Woman” follows Keiko Furukawa, a 36-year-old woman who has never really fit in, not at school nor her family, until, at 18 years old, she gets a job at Smile Mart, a neighborhood convenience store. Unlike anywhere else, she finds her purpose within the confines of the Smile Mart. She considers herself a part meant to fit in the convenience store “machine” that consequently, cannot be a part that fits into the machine of “modern society.” Despite working what most would consider a “dead-end” job, Keiko is completely content with her life and doesn’t want anything more; not even a better job, higher pay, or a partner to spend time with. 

Based on Murata’s personal experiences while working at a convenience store, she explores the consequences of nonconformity and the pursuit of a sense of purpose and belonging through the eyes of someone who goes against conventional thinking in a conformist society in a humorous and heartwarming way.


“The Memory Police” by Yoko Ogawa

Taking place on an unnamed island, random objects seemingly disappear out of nowhere. Most civilians have no memory of the disappearance but the few that do live in fear of the dystopian Memory Police, officials who will do everything to make sure that has disappeared remains forgotten. Throughout this madness, a writer discovers that her editor is in danger and creates a plan to hide him from the Memory Police. Together, they use her writing as a way to preserve the forgotten memories of the past. New York Times Bestseller, “The Memory Police” tells a striking story about grief and the trauma of loss through a 1984-inspired tale.

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About the Contributor
Christine Le
Christine Le, Staff
Christine is a junior at Carroll Senior High School and a first-year member of Dragon Media. Her hobbies include spending time with friends, listening to music and reading. She has a passion for literature and hopes to expand her horizons with journalism.