Ryu Murakami's Coin Locker Babies

Their mothers left them to die in coin lockers when they were born, but they survived. Kiku and Hashi grew up together in a foster home as brothers, but must deal with their own demons.

Kiku becomes a pole vaulter and eventually kills his mother, landing him in jail. But he escapes and goes to the Garagi Island to search for a substance call “DATURA,” which he would use to destroy Tokyo.

Hashi becomes a bisexual singer and rises to stardom on the heel of Kiku’s killing his mother. But the trauma of surviving the coin locker continues to haunt him and it destroys his career. He kills his pregnant wife and journeys into a surreal world, and he couldn't escape the nightmare.

In Coin Locker Babies, Ryu Murakami ventures into the fringes of society. And Toxitown is a symbol of the darkness in the protagonists and an entire society. Kiku hears the murmuring, perhaps recalling his mother’s beating while he was in the womb. And Hashi believes he has swallowed a fly with a human face and he must kill to continue his success. Two broken individuals reflecting Toxitown reflecting society. But we would find Toxitown not just in Tokyo but also in New York, London, Paris, etc. Murakami’s graphic description of its mutated denizens and their activities matches the story’s theme and his commentary of contemporary society. He means to shock the readers, and moviegoers, and he succeeds. The kid with the hole in his head is only the beginning.

The surrealist, and dreamlike, ending blunts the horror but leaves the reader wondering whether Kuku will use “DATURA” on Tokyo and whether Hashi has become insane. Still, whatever happens, Murakami makes his point and the reader will recall Toxitown’s landscape, the crocodile’s death in the highway, Kiku shooting his mother on live TV, Hashi stabbing his wife in the shower, and all the while D, the producer, looking to sell more and more of Hashi’s records. Not everyone will be able to stomach the book, but if a reader can pass the first paragraph, then he or she will be ready to enter Murakami’s dark world and glimpse into contemporary society’s tormented souls.

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