Of Bones, of Body Heat, of Whitening City

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Of Bones, of Body Heat, of Whitening City
Author: Sayaka Murata
Specifications: ISBN  978-4022510112
271 pages
13.6 x 19.0 cm / 5.4 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.
Tokyo, 2012
Awards: Mishima Yukio Prize, 2013
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


Set in a rapidly developing "new town" where homes and buildings keep going up and new residents keep pouring in, this novel tells of the first love and sexual awakening of an adolescent girl. The story spans two time periods: when narrator Yuka Tanizawa is about ten years old, in the fourth and fifth grades, and four years later, when she is in the eighth grade. She becomes friends with Yota Ibuki, a boy she meets at the calligraphy class she goes to. Together they explore their changing town, as its fields and trees disappear and it progressively takes on the white look of a built-up city. Precocious Yuka talks the reluctant Yota into a kiss, and probes his tongue with hers. She yearns to keep him as her own private plaything.

Four years later, economic doldrums have brought the town's development to a standstill, and Yuka's physical development, too, seems to have come to a halt. She has stopped growing taller, her chest remains flat, and only her lower body has grown thicker. Nursing an exaggerated sense of her ugliness and afraid her classmates will bully her, she does everything she can to hide her relationship with Yota, who has caught the eye of the prettiest and most popular girl in the class. One winter's day, unable to contain herself any longer, Yuka goes to Yota's house and gives him a blow job. Word soon begins circulating that ugly Yuka pursued Yota to his house like a stalker, and she is not only ostracized by the entire class, but falls out with Yota as well. After a time, she regains her footing, and while still putting herself down, takes to looking down her nose at and ridiculing her classmates, both male and female . . .

The author grapples head-on with the roller-coaster ride that is an adolescent girl's sense of self.