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Coin Locker Babies

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Abandoned at birth in train station lockers, two troubled boys are raised in an orphanage and by foster parents on a semi-deserted island before setting off for the city to find and destroy the women who first rejected them. Twisted together like a strand of DNA coded for ultimate havoc, both are drawn to an area of freaks and hustlers called Toxitown in the heart of Tokyo. One becomes a bisexual rock singer, star of this exotic demimonde, while the other, a pole vaulter, seeks out revenge in the company of his ...
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Overview

Abandoned at birth in train station lockers, two troubled boys are raised in an orphanage and by foster parents on a semi-deserted island before setting off for the city to find and destroy the women who first rejected them. Twisted together like a strand of DNA coded for ultimate havoc, both are drawn to an area of freaks and hustlers called Toxitown in the heart of Tokyo. One becomes a bisexual rock singer, star of this exotic demimonde, while the other, a pole vaulter, seeks out revenge in the company of his girlfriend, Anemone, a model who has converted her condominium into a tropical swamp to keep her pet crocodile in. Together and apart, their journey from a hot metal box to a stunning, savage climax takes us on a brutal funhouse ride through the eerie landscape of late-twentieth-century Japan.

Follow Japan's two remaining "coin locker babies"--infants abandoned by their mothers in the public lockers of train stations--through an orphanage, an adoptive home on a nearly deserted island, and ultimately to Tokyo where they set off separately to find and destroy the women who abandoned them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The third of this prolific Japanese author's 30 novels to appear in English, this is a cyber-Bildungsroman of playful breadth and uncertain depth. Two mothers abandon their infant boys in the Yokohama train station's coin lockers. The reader is not spared the mechanics of packaging a child in a parcel, nor the grim details of any of the other episodes of discomfort and suffering which follow in incremental doses, though always with such whimsy that the reader wonders whether or not to be offended. The heroes, Kiku and Hashi, grow up together; but, beyond their bizarre beginnings, they couldn't be more different. Kiku becomes a homicidal pole-vaulter whose inner rage gives him unusual speed and strength, but which also fosters an obsession with murder and a secret drug that sets any creature into a killing frenzy. The more delicate Hashi strives to find his mother, supporting himself as a prostitute in Toxitown-a chemical disaster zone insulated from Tokyo by a wall and armed guards-until one of his johns discovers his musical talent and makes him a star. The settings seem lifted from Japanese animation epics: an abandoned mining town, an underwater tunnel and a retreat in the mountains. At times, Murakami rambles, as in the case of a taxi driver's pointless monologue or the long interviews with women who might be Hashi's mother. Such digressions, however, are less the product of careless craft than of a lush and frantic imagination overwhelming its own project. Though expansive and exciting as its scope, the novel is as unfocused as its troubled heroes. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In 69 (LJ 9/15/93) Murakami's last novel published in English, the prevailing tone was one of hip innocence. In Coin Locker Babies, any hint of innocence is decidedly absent. The coin locker babies of the title are two abandoned infants rescued from train station lockers, and the novel follows their adventures through boyhood into manhood. They wander through the sort of hellish, surreal landscape usually associated with dismal sf visions of the future, but in this book the hell is contemporary Japan. The journeys of the two are relentlessly dark and disturbing: matricide, violent sex, mutilation, vengeance, insanity, perversion, and mass destruction are all explored, usually graphically and with relish. The work of Murakami-who is also a filmmaker-begs comparison with film. Robocop comes to mind as bearing the closest resemblance to this novel, although the book lacks the satiric edge that many claimed to have found in that film. Large collections with a particular interest in contemporary fiction may find a place for this. Otherwise, it is not recommended.-Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., N.Y.
From the Publisher
"The third of this prolific Japanese author's 30 novels to appear in English, this is a cyber-Bildungsroman of playful breadth and uncertain depth . . . The settings seem lifted from Japanese animation epics: an abandoned mining town, an underwater tunnel and a retreat in the mountains. . . .a lush and frantic imagination . . . expansive and exciting." -Publishers Weekly

"A knockout ... a great big pulsating parable." -Washington Post

"Deliciously grotesque." -Philadelphia Inquirer

"The work of Murakami who is also a filmmaker begs comparison with film. Robocop comes to mind as bearing the closest resemblance to this novel." -Library Journal

"... an amazing, imaginative adventure." -Beverley Curran, The Daily Yomiuri

"Its power grabbed me by the heart."-Banana Yoshimoto, best selling author of Kitchen

"Devilish and brilliant." -Oliver Stone, filmmaker

"Startlingly hip, frighteningly inventive." -Roger Corman, filmmaker

"A writer with talent to burn." -Gary Indiana, author of Rent Boy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770015907
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 7/10/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 394
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

RYU MURAKAMI was born in 1952. The only son of schoolteacher parents, he grew up in the port city of Sasebo in southwestern Japan. After graduating from a local high school, where he played the drums in a band called Coelacanth, he went to an art college in Tokyo. It was while studying there that he entered his first novel, Almost Transparent Blue, in a competition for new writers. Published in 1976, the book won a major literary award and sold over a million copies. Since then, he has worked for a publishing house, presented a weekly music and interview radio program, and hosted a TV talk show. His literary output includes two collections of stories Run, Takahashi (1985) and Topaz (1988), and the novel Coin Locker Babies (1980), which made its debut in English early in 1995. His roman a clef 69 appeared in English in 1993. He has also directed four movies based on his writing, causing a sensation at an Italian film festival when Tokyo Decadence was shown there in 1992. His latest film is set in the U.S. and Cuba.

STEVEN SNYDER, the translator, is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Among his first-rate translations from Japanese are Kunio Tsuji's The Signore: Shogun of the Warring States, which won the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize; Ryu Murakami's Coin Locker Babies; Kenzaburo Oe's A Healing Family; and the forthcoming Out by Natsuo Kirino.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Read it!

    My favorite book, simply astounding what I felt while reading this book. Sorrow, revulsion, anger, disgust, love, excitement, fear.

    This book isn't for the faint of heart, it takes some getting used to, Murakami is very descriptive and graphic and nothing is too taboo for him. You'll see. Read the book, you wont regret it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is somehow my favorite novel. It's a very distressing read- that much is sure- but in that it is very powerful. Murakami can take even relatively normal life events and spin them masterfully into something that tugs at those strings in your brain that hold things in place. The way he describes something like tomatoes, squished on the ground, is somehow just as distressing as a death scene. I won't rehash the plot, because of all the great reviews already present on the page, but know this: It's an outlandish tale presented in such a skilled way that there's no reason to doubt it as you read. And if you like Japan, it's doubly delicious. I know that probably doesn't sound like an appealing read, and for many people it won't be, but if you're a little eccentric, a little dark, and you like being a little distrubed, this might be the best thing you'll ever find.

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    Posted December 17, 2009

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    Posted February 21, 2010

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    Posted September 12, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

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