Book review: 『告白』 by Kanae Minato

告白 (こくはく)
Title: 告白 (こくはく)
First published: 2008
Published: 2010
Format: Bunko
Page Count: 317
Translation: Confessions, translated by Stephen Snyder
『告白』 is Kanae Minato's debut novel and her most famous work. It has been translated into English by Stephen Snyder. There is a film adaptation directed by Tetsuya Nakashima (中島哲也) with Takako Matsu (松たか子) in the role of Yuko Moriguchi.

Wow, this book is so good, definitely one of my favourite mystery novels so far! Why on earth did I not read this book sooner? 😅 And how can this be a debut novel? 😮

To be honest, I did not love all Kanae Minato’s books that I have read, so I was not in a hurry to read 『告白』 even though I had it sitting on my shelf for years, and I knew that it was universally praised.

Reading this book has been quite a shock. It is so good! You are instantaneously dragged into the story by the first-person narrator’s voice and you just cannot stop reading. When the first chapter is over and you feel that you are already emotionally drained, you realise that things are only just starting and the rest will be much more disturbing.

Fantastic characters sudies

All the characters of the story are extremely complex, with very interesting personalities and emotional patterns. The mystery at the centre of the novel seems very simple at first, but once you hear several characters telling their version of the event, you start seeing the complex and subtle accumulations of triggers that have led to it. It was fascinating to see how the characters’ weaknesses influenced their behaviour.

Numerous twists

I have rarely read a book that had me change my mind so many times. Kanae Minato really tricks the reader into forming preconceived and harsh opinions about characters to completely blow up your judgements in the next chapter.

What is disturbing is that this novel makes you understand the motivations that led to abominable acts, and even sympathise with their perpetrators. Reading this book really made me go through a lot of different emotional states, while being engrossing all along.

8 thoughts on “Book review: 『告白』 by Kanae Minato

  1. I haven’t read the book, but I had watched the film back in 2011, and I was blown away! Glad to hear the book holds up to its reputation! I’ll definitely attempt to read it in Japanese at some point 🙂

    1. Someone said on Twitter that they found the book better than the film. I still need to watch the film to see which one I prefer, but the book is definitely worth it, and it was not difficult to read either. I found it easier to read than her other books 🙂

  2. did you see the movie? the movie is excellent as well. i saw the movie thenread the book. this was the first book of hers i read so i just knew she would never pass this book in terms of quality. so when i read her books i enjoyed but i didn’t have high expectations that it’ll be as good as kokuhaku

    this was my post

    1. Still haven’t watched the movie, but it is definitely on my list of things to do.
      That’s funny because I also have this idea that Japanese films are overall very slow with not much happening. I really must watch 告白!

  3. This is one of the few books I read in Japanese. I absolutely loved the movie, and knowing the plot from the movie made it much easier to understand the book. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should check it out! You will be glad that you did.

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