Book Review | Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Title: Breasts and Eggs

Author: Mieko Kawakami

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: 20th August 2020

Source: NetGalley

Buy: Amazon UK
On a hot summer’s day in a poor suburb of Tokyo we meet three women: thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister Makiko, and Makiko’s teenage daughter Midoriko. Makiko, an ageing hostess despairing the loss of her looks, has travelled to Tokyo in search of breast enhancement surgery. She's accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently stopped speaking, finding herself unable to deal with her own changing body and her mother’s self-obsession. Her silence dominates Natsu’s rundown apartment, providing a catalyst for each woman to grapple with their own anxieties and their relationships with one another.


Ten years later, we meet Natsu again. She is now a writer and finds herself on a journey back to her native city, returning to memories of that summer and her family’s past as she faces her own uncertain future.

In Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami paints a radical and intimate portrait of contemporary working class womanhood in Japan, recounting the heartbreaking journeys of three women in a society where the odds are stacked against them. This is an unforgettable full length English language debut from a major new international talent.

Breasts and Eggs, that’s a title you don’t forget in a hurry.  A title like that has to make You a little curious as to what is hiding within the pages, it certainly piqued my interest.

Sisters Natsu and Makiko have grown up depending on each other, their mother died young and they lived with their grandmother but when she died they supported each other as best they could, working jobs underage to keep a roof over their heads.

Now adults, Makiko is a single parent to twelve year daughter Midoriko.  They have a tempestuous relationship to say the least and currently Midoriko only talks by writing down her questions on a notepad.  Mother and daughter’s relationship is not helped by Makiko’s constant battle with her looks, she works as a bar hostess and is convinced a breast augmentation will get her further in life.

At the start of the book Makiko and Midoriko have travelled during the summer from their home in Osaka to visit Natsu, a struggling writer, in her modest apartment in Tokyo.  As the younger sister Natsu would do anything for her big sister but they are truly polar opposites, Natsu is quiet and reserved whereas Makiko is full of life.  Their few days spent together during this summer show the family at their best and their worst, during time spent at an amusement park and also time spend waiting on a nastily drunk Makiko to come home.  This visit ends with Midoriko putting down her notepad and starting to talk.

The book jumps forward some years and Natsu is now a successful published author, she has some new friends including her editor and a fellow author and she has a new goal in life.  She wants to be a mother.  The second half of the books takes us on Natsu’s journey to realising her dream, as a single woman she decides to go down the donor route but this proves to be a very bumpy journey indeed.  

Breast and Eggs is a book that no matter how hard I try to review I probably can’t do it any justice whatsoever.  I am fascinated by Japanese culture and every time I try a new (to me) Japanese author I learn a little bit more.  The expectations of Japanese women by the older Japanese generation is still quite old fashioned, one of Natsu’s friends is expected to leave her life in Tokyo behind to move to the country as the say so of her poisonous mother in law.  It is always an eye-opener a story like this but its not just a story, I read an interview of Meiko Kawakami and her upbringing seems to have echoed parts of the book.

This is a great story of sisterhood, female friendship and realising that you don’t always have to do what is expected of you.  Please give it a try.

Thanks to Net Galley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟🌟🌟


9 comments

  1. That is definitely a title you don't forget haha! Seriously though, glad this was good. I'm fascinated with Japanese culture too and any book that explores it in an interesting way usually gets my attention.

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    1. I know its a unique title! I think the Breasts part is stopping my review going on Amazon, they keep rejecting it! I love Japanese culture too, it’s fascinating!

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  2. I too like Japanese literature. This sounds like a good addition to my list.

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  3. It's not a title I'd run towards but I enjoyed your review!

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  4. Will definitely read this one. Your review convinced me!

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  5. This sounds perfect I added it to Goodreads. Thanks for sharing your review. 👍✨

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