Insect Woman
Author: Areno Inoue
Specifications: ISBN  978-4093863834
248 pages
13.5 x 19.5 cm / 5.4 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shogakukan Inc.
Tokyo, 2014
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The spirit of a woman who has died hovers about the vicinity seeking to learn the cause of her death in this thought-provoking novel by Areno Inoue.

At a prime residential location in central Tokyo is B House, a cooperative housing unit with five private rooms and a shared common area that includes a kitchen, dining room, and living room. Three months earlier, after a day of unseasonably late snow in April, resident Hikaru Mominoki was found naked and dead in the yard. The young woman had been making her living as a nude model for artists. Is it an accident, suicide, or murder? There had been a party at the house the night before, and each of her housemates?Ryūji Sakurai (male), the owner-chef of an Italian restaurant; Masato Senoo (male), a self-professed actor who can only find work as an extra; Miyuki Ikari (female), a freelance writer; and Yōko Kashima (female), a bank employee?as well as Yōichi Hikita (male) of the realty company that manages the property, all reflect on their own actions during the merrymaking.

Since she could not make ends meet from modeling alone, Hikaru had also worked as a prostitute, and had slept with both Ryūji and Masato. For some reason she follows Masato around like a stalker after she dies. The narrative soon reveals that, in large part at Hikaru’s own suggestion, the party had turned into a sexual orgy, with Ryūji and Hikaru starting things off. Hikaru had then gone on to couple with Masato, Ryūji with Miyuki, and Masato with Yōko. Afterwards, Ryūji feels responsible for having left the naked Hikaru to fall asleep outside and decides to turn himself in to the police, but then we learn that Hikaru fell asleep because Miyuki had slipped a sleeping pill into her drink. Miyuki and Ryūji were previously married, and one of the conditions of their divorce settlement had been that they would both live at B House, but she’d been rubbed the wrong way when Hikaru condescendingly urged Ryūji to “give Miyuki some love, too.”

Building on the innermost dynamics of male/female relationships she has probed in her previous works, Inoue throws together highly individualistic people in close quarters to see what happens, weaving a new kind of suspense with the experimental edge of a reality show. All the while, the sterility of love lurks in the background.