cover image Confessions


Kanae Minato, trans. from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $15 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-20092-9

The murder of a young science teacher’s trusting four-year-old daughter—by some of her own 13-year-old students—sets in motion a diabolic revenge plot with devastating collateral damage in Minato’s outstanding debut, which inspired the Oscar nominated film. Initially, single mother Yuko Moriguchi’s grief mixes with guilt when police rule little Manami’s death accidental; she accepts the blow as yet another in a lengthy series, including the HIV-positive diagnosis that Manami’s father received during Yuko’s pregnancy, which prompted him to break off their engagement. But when she subsequently discovers evidence that points to foul play, Yuko decides to draw on her knowledge of the culprits to exact retribution far more terrible than the punishment that would have been meted out to such youthful offenders by the authorities. The plan’s twisted genius emerges gradually through restrained first-person chapters narrated by Yuko and other principals. The suspense intensifies as the entire Machiavellian web only belatedly becomes clear. Minato, a homemaker and former home economics teacher, also spotlights the dysfunction that can fester beneath the tidy surface of Japanese society—as well as the searing fury of a mother’s love gone wrong. (Aug.)