Review of ‘Life Ceremony’ by Sayaka Murata

A weird, grotesque collection of short stories which engages with concepts of morality and humanity. Most of the content requires a strong stomach and is definitely more like Earthlings than Convenience Store Woman. There is an obsession with bodies, what we put into them, what comes out of them and how we should or shouldn’t use them.

I didn’t enjoy the book but I did appreciate the thought-provoking quality of the stories, which deliberately confront social taboos and feature characters who are not afraid to be different. The stand-out story for me was ‘A First-Rate Material’, which opens the collection. Unfortunately most of the stories were either too rambling, had weak endings or repetitive writing.

If you loved Earthlings, or if you didn’t love it but was intrigued by its shock factor, I suggest you pick up this book. I just found it too much of a mixed bag.

First published in Japan in 2019 as Seimeishiki. The English edition was translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

Thank you to the publisher Granta for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 14th July.

4 thoughts on “Review of ‘Life Ceremony’ by Sayaka Murata”

    1. I think if I hadn’t already experienced ‘Earthlings’ (which I had been warned was rather extreme) this book would’ve freaked me out too much!

    1. If you want a book to make you consider morals and ethics in a quirky way… definitely this one!

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