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Kanae Minato is a female Japanese mystery novel writer who was once a home economic teacher but became a housewife after marriage. Not satisfied with the work of a housewife, she began to write novels after she finished her daily housewife work.

Her works include Confesssion, Shoujo, N no Tameni, Atonement and such. Confession was adapted into a film and got short listed for the first few rounds of Academy Award for foreign film.

Kanae Minato’s mystery novels are interesting because they doesn’t really follow any traditional formats of whodunit or howdunit. In fact, all the deaths and murders in her novel are very simple and Yyu would never guess who the murderer is or how they done their deeds l. Her novel is more of whydunit where she will explore the inner psyche of everyone who is related to a murder case.

Her usual format goes like this. The first chapter will always be about a certain murder case. The chapter will then introduce every characters that is related to the case and give you an overview on what happened or who might done it in a third person perspective. Then on the subsequent chapters, you would be given the first person perspective and the inner psyche of each and every characters when they reveal what they know about the case.

In these ‘revel’ chapters, she relies very heavily on unreliable first person narrative where you wouldn’t be sure whether the one telling the story is accurate because the character is unable to see or comprehend things outside of what he or she sees. Being an unreliable first person narrative, the character will often weight in with his personal bias and assumption of other characters’ action.

Reading a person perspective, you will form your own assumption of the other characters base on their interpretation of the story. This is often use as a deceptive device because the character often misunderstood others intention. It’s only when you read about the other characters inner psyche that you will understand their true personality and how the other person misunderstood him or her.

This unreliable first person narrative is very interesting because in one chapter, you will assume that this certain character is a cynical bastard but then in the next chapter, you would findĀ  that the character is actually just being misunderstood. Of course, the misunderstandings can go both way because someone who may seem kind might just turn out to be one evil bastard.

Thanks to this format, she is able to outline the complex personality of her characters. Each characters are important and are trying to tell you something based on how they live their life and how they view this world. They are very interesting because the world views of her characters are very realistic with little to no embellishment. Often I would wonder if she can read my mind because what every of her characters said and act are what I believed in as well.

This format itself is already a social commentary on its own about how assumptions are really dangerous and how you wouldn’t understand someone if you are not them.

She covers a lot of interesting topics like how people love to step on those who messed up their life so they can relish on their own superiority complex. She also covers a lot about bullying and provide a realistic view on the perpetrator and the victims. There are no lovey dovey simplistic stuff where everyone became friends in the end. Most of her works are really dark and sometimes disturbing. For example, in Shokuzai, there’s a scene where a seemly loving stepfather have sex with her stepdaughter due to some complicated family relationship. This is explores in such nihilistic and cynical way that you can’t help but be tense and gasp every time you read a new page.

For now, there are no english translation for any of her works. The closest you would get is the Confession film and a TV adaptation of Shokuzai.

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