Each version of events lends itself to reinterpretation and further distrust of the principal narrator’s account. The supplementary material the narrator adds to her story (Yuriko’s diary, Kazue’s diary, Zhang’s deposition and account of his past) flatly contradict her own perceptions. Although what occurs at the end should serve to lend more sympathy to the narrator, the very fact that she’s allowed other voices in undermines her tale, leaving this reader merely annoyed with her pathetic posturing. But whose telling is really “true”? Isn’t it simply a matter of both/and rather than either/or? And given the social context in which she finds herself, could the narrator have chosen any other way?
Kirino elegantly exhibits the difference between truth and fact, while making it clear that compassion is needed for both.
UPDATE: I decided to use the handy litblog search engine over at MetaxuCafé to see what others had to say about it.
- Callie points to Junot Díaz's recommendation (which helped influence me to pick it up in the first place--and led directly to my reading Francisco Goldman's latest...but I'm getting ahead of myself).
- David Thayer's thoughts on the novel.
- Sarah Weinman mentions Sophie Harrison's review for the NYTBR ("Uh-Oh Kitty"--nice).
- Michael Orthofer's masterful collection of reviews, as well as his own (he gave it a B, which I would completely agree with).