Reviews of All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami

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
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  • Published:
    May 2022, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Book Summary

Bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami invites readers back into her immediately recognizable fictional world with this new, extraordinary novel and demonstrates yet again why she is one of today's most uncategorizable, insightful, and talented novelists.

Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. Working and living alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships, she has little regular contact with anyone other than her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyuko stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, what she sees is a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who has lacked the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it.

As the long overdue change occurs, however, painful episodes from Fuyuko's past surface and her behavior slips further and further beyond the pale. All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh, and it will make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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. 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...continued

Full Review (494 words).

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(Reviewed by Rachel Hullett).

Media Reviews

Entertainment Weekly (A Most Anticipated Book of 2022)
In the skilled hands of Bett and Boyd, Kawakami's prose is instantly recognizable—immediate, incisive, and unfailingly honest.

New York Times
[B]rilliant...Kawakami's novel is uncompromisingly candid in its appraisal of the harm women inflict on one another, while never losing sight of the overarching structures that lead them to do so in the first place. Compact and supple, it's a strikingly intelligent feat.

Oprah Daily (A Most Anticipated Book of 2022)
Her most accomplished novel yet…A contemporary Japanese master continues her meteoric rise into our literary firmament.

Washington Post
[An] engrossing, fine-boned new novel...All the Lovers in the Night adroitly plays off collective dissonance and sorrow. And with this consummate novel, Kawakami's star continues to rise, pulsing against a night that's anything but holy.

Booklist (starred review)
Candid and searing, Kawakami's latest is another brilliantly rendered portal into young women's lives.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Kawakami has created a rich and notable examination of the varied ways women choose to live their lives and the gains and losses that come with the choices they've made. Kawakami writes with the tender and incisive sensibilities of a poet...An unforgettable and masterful work.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[S]ensational...The author dazzles with her exploration of emotions and intertwining of lofty discussions of metaphysics with descriptions of Fuyuko's routines, making her an extraordinary character who moves effortlessly between different worlds as she struggles to find herself. Kawakami turns this study of a 'dictionary definition of a miserable person,' as Fuyuko calls herself, into an invigorating and empowering portrait.

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Beyond the Book

Loneliness and Social Isolation in Japan

People walking in an alley in Tokyo, Japan at night Loneliness is one of many themes deftly explored by Mieko Kawakami in her novel All the Lovers in the Night, which follows a freelance proofreader living in Tokyo who has withdrawn from society.

A 2022 study conducted by the American Psychological Association concluded that global rates of loneliness have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Japan, this increase has added to an existing phenomenon: The country has long been known for its high rates of loneliness. There are at least half a million people in Japan who live as "hikikomori," a term coined by psychologist Tamaki Saitō in 1998. Hikikomori are essentially people who live in complete physical and social isolation, and they officially comprise 1.57% of the ...

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