Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

BookBrowse Reviews All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

All the Lovers in the Night

by Mieko Kawakami

All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami X
All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2022, 224 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2023, 224 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Fuyuko Irie has recently quit her publishing job to become a full-time freelance proofreader, withdrawing more and more from society. She begins to spend time with her editor Hijiri, a charismatic extrovert, and assesses the limitations of her own life.

All the Lovers in the Night follows Fuyuko Irie, a woman in her mid-30s who doesn't have nearly as many lovers as the novel's cryptic title may suggest; instead, she has almost no one in her life. Having recently quit her job at a publishing house, Fuyuko has become a full-time freelance proofreader, working from home. She has no connection to her family, who live in a remote village in the countryside; she has no partner, no friends, and now, no colleagues, except for her editor Hijiri, who she speaks to only on the phone.

When Hijiri invites Fuyuko out for drinks one night, Fuyuko's carefully ordered world begins to crumble around her. She sees in the confident, charismatic, extroverted Hijiri everything she is not, and she starts to examine her own life more closely. In an effort to do something different for herself, she attempts to enroll in a course at her local community center, where she meets Mitsutsuka, an older high school physics teacher she strikes up an uneasy friendship with. The changes in Fuyuko's life are accompanied by heavy drinking—a habit she has picked up from Hijiri—and in attempting to reclaim control, she ironically begins to lose control of her actions, her work quality and her carefully structured existence.

Kawakami's book is a masterclass in depicting the insidious nature of loneliness, and in showing the ways in which passivity shapes a life every bit as much as action does. Fuyuko is shy, demure and agreeable. The first major decision she makes in this novel (and perhaps her life)—to quit her job—is hardly a decision at all. A former colleague suggests the possibility of becoming a full-time freelancer, and Fuyuko simply agrees.

Fuyuko walks through life as though blindfolded, but rather than presenting a straightforward fable where our unassuming protagonist comes to love her life through learning the value of asserting herself, Kawakami offers a thornier reality. The more Fuyuko tries to make the decisions one is theoretically supposed to make, the more these decisions chafe against her body and mind. She is often physically ill, she becomes unable to handle her workload, she fails to understand the motives that drive Hijiri, even as she begins to model her own life after her colleague's. The novel grapples with the complexity of societal pressures by showing a protagonist who lives an existence that society deems unusual, while also assimilating to her peers in every way she can.

There are no easy conclusions to be derived from Fuyuko's journey; Kawakami instead depicts a deceptively multifaceted individual with all the contradictory messiness of real life. All the Lovers in the Night, translated from the Japanese in sharp, engaging prose by Sam Bett and David Boyd, is a quiet, meditative novel that will appeal most to readers who enjoy a slow burn and a thoughtful character study. As for Kawakami's occasionally funny, occasionally devastating insights into the intricate nature of human relationships, they aren't to be missed.

Reviewed by Rachel Hullett

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in June 2022, and has been updated for the June 2023 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked All the Lovers in the Night, try these:

  • The Librarianist jacket

    The Librarianist

    by Patrick deWitt

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself.

  • One Hour of Fervor jacket

    One Hour of Fervor

    by Muriel Barbery

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    From the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog comes a family story with a difference, a novel about the decisions one makes and the destiny they determine by one of Europe's most brilliant and stylistically subtle authors.

We have 5 read-alikes for All the Lovers in the Night, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Mieko Kawakami
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...
  • Book Jacket: Beverly Hills Spy
    Beverly Hills Spy
    by Ronald Drabkin
    When it comes to espionage, not only is truth stranger than fiction, sometimes it can be downright ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Only the Beautiful
by Susan Meissner
A heartrending story about a young mother's fight to keep her daughter, and the winds of fortune that tear them apart.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Who Said...

The low brow and the high brow

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.