Stephen Snyder, tr. New York. Mulholland Books / Little, Brown. ISBN Confessions, the debut novel from Minato Kanae (b. ), is a . Confessions (告白, Kokuhaku) is a Japanese drama film directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, based on housewife-turned-author Kanae Minato’s debut. Kanae Minato is a Japanese writer of crime fiction and thrillers. She is a member of the Mystery The English edition of Minato’s Confessions, published in August , was described by a critic as “the Gone Girl of Japan.” Wall Street Journal.

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As you’re reading what had promised to be a garden-variety crime novel, it’s thrilling when it gradually dawns on you that what you’re holding in your hands is far deeper and larger, though no less entertaining, than what you expected. And when that realization comes on the very first page, as it does in Kanae Minato’s “Confessions” a nasty little masterpiece published in English translation for the first time since it became a best-selling literary sensation in Minato’s home country of Japan six years agothe effect must be something like being tasered.

Resistance to the novel’s narrative momentum is futile; I read it in a single sitting, borne on a wave of dread as it billowed briskly toward its shocking, if arguably inevitable, conclusion. Along the way, I learned much — more, if truth be told, than I felt emotionally prepared to learn — about the damage inflicted by adults upon children, and the ways in which the young sometimes return it in kind, twisted and magnified, driven by a logic that to them seems as unassailable as it is horror-inducing.


Review: ‘Confessions’ by Kanae Minato – Chicago Tribune

If they are monsters, they are no more so than you or I might be in similar circumstances; it’s their humanity — their capacity for love, and their furious suffering when it’s crushed — that leads them to kill and be killed. As its title suggests, “Confessions” is a pulp-fiction tell-all of sorts: These include Shuya, a seemingly narcissistic boy with a knack for electronics and a masochistic mother fixation, and his more guilt-prone accomplice Naoki, a sort of Japanese Leopold and Loeb who, for reasons that become clear only slowly, murder the beloved 4-year-old daughter of their middle school teacher.

Human beings are just one among an infinite number of entities, living or otherwise, that exist on the earth.

If obtaining some sort of benefit for one being necessitates the elimination of another, then so be it. This is the sort of philosophy that has a way of boomeranging, of course; the boys couldn’t have chosen a worse victim.

Their teacher, a single mother named Yuko Moriguchi, turns out to have vast stores of patience and ingenuity to go along with her ravening hatred of the boys — whom she chooses not to report to the police but, rather, to deal with in her own cloaked, implacable and remorseless manner.

Her hair-raising methods of exacting revenge, which ostensibly start with cartons of healthful, calcium-rich milk injected with HIV-infected blood and then escalate into more frightening and effective stratagems of psychological manipulation, are made even scarier by the terrible calm with which she executes and describes them.


Not that Yuko’s are the only maternal instincts gone wild here. Both Shuya and Naoki are saddled with troubled, all but maniacal mothers whose behaviors lay firm foundations for tragedies to come; by contrast, the boys’ fathers would be paragons of sanity and reason if they weren’t so ineffectual or absent.

It’s that familial current pulsing through “Confessions” — a debut novel written by its author, a former home economics teacher and housewife, between chores — that gives the book an existential heft that its sensational plot alone could never have produced.

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Turning the pages with mounting horror, one is struck by the flimsy, porous borders separating love and hate, good and evil, life and death. Most appalling of all is how quickly one leads to the other, and how reading about that short trip, in books like “Confessions,” can confeswions you vibrate with happiness.

Kevin Nance is a Chicago-based freelance writer and photographer. Learn more about subscribing to Printers Row Journal, which is available for home or digital delivery. Literature Authors Crime Knae.