(Book Review / 感想) BUTTER / 柚木麻子 * BUTTER / Asako Yuzuki

BUTTER was inspired by the famous crime case of Kanae Kjima in 2009, who was sentenced with the death penalty for conducting a series of murders while taking part in ‘Konkatsu’ (marriage hunting), specifically targeting men seeking marriage. Because of this unusual setting – and her strong personality – the media reported this sensationally, with lurid details about her remarks and crimes; including her sex life and the amount of money she earned from the ex-boyfriends (who she’d killed).

BUTTERは、実際の事件をベースに書かれたフィクション、「婚活事件」としてニュースで話題になっていた、木嶋佳苗死刑囚がモデルです。彼女の発言や性格、男性たちとのこと、様々な憶測を盛り込みつつ、センセーショナルに報道された事件でした。

Despite the public curiosity towards the case, a great deal of mystery continued to surround her, in particular regarding how the media described her appearance negatively (or more precisely, the public would outspokenly comment that she was not a beautiful woman). People wondered how she had managed to succeed in having a string of relationships with men, and how she maintained a confident persona.

世間の関心は高かったものの、彼女の人物像については謎が多いらしい。特に、彼女の容姿についてネガティブに語られ、どんな手練手管を使ったのかと、おもしろおかしく話されていたように記憶しています。

This book is a work of fiction, however, these questions lie at the core of the themes the protagonist of this book Rika – a journalist in her 30s – tries to answer.

この本はフィクションですが、30代ジャーナリストの主人公 里佳が、そんな謎にも迫ります。

Having introduced the background and setting of this book, it might sound like a crime thriller, but it isn’t. Rather, I would describe it as being about happiness. How do you understand your own personal definition of happiness, and how do you achieve this in your life? In particular, the concept of women’s ‘happiness’ – in both life and relationships – is discussed, from the point of view of the protagonist Rika, her friend Reiko and the ‘Konkatsu’ killer ‘Kajimana.’

こうあらすじを書くと、なんだかスリラー小説のように聞こえるかもしれませんが、この本は一味違う。事件を題材としつつも、「幸せ」について考え、追及する本であると感じました。幸せとは何なのか、どうやって幸せをつかむのか。特に女性にとっての「幸せ」について、主人公の里佳、友人の伶子、そして婚活犯罪の「カジマナ」がそれぞれの視点で追及していきます。

The ‘Konkatsu’ killer herself, as well as some of the details in the case, are modified to better fit into the fictional story. While exploring Kajimana’s motives for committing the crimes, Rika becomes close to her, intending to write about her for the weekly magazine she works for. As women, they are both very different in terms of what they expect from life, and their respective outlooks frequently collide. Kajimana is described as a mysterious, persuasive person, and as a result Rika ends up being strongly influenced and manipulated by her through their various exchanges… The psychological conflict between the characters felt so real!

「カジマナ」のプロフィールや事件の詳細については、フィクションということでかなり手を入れられています。週刊誌の記事にする目的で、カジマナの犯罪の動機を探る里佳は、カジマナと特別な関係を築いていきます。女性として根本的に異なる考え・生き方をする二人の想いは衝突するのですが….カジマナは魅惑的な女性として描かれ、だんだんと里佳を翻弄していくのです….このキャラクター同士の心理、心の動きがとてもリアルでした。

It ended up being a very empowering book, and it led me to think more about the social norms and culture around femininity in Japan.

社会の慣習や文化、女性性について考え、力づける本です。

Lastly, as the title indicates, the book also contains many scenes involving food, and I ended up feeling extremely hungry while I read!

また、タイトルがバターであるとおり、食べ物がたくさん登場し、なんともお腹がすく一冊です。

Unfortunately, this book is not available in English yet, but I would love to see Asako Yuzuki’s books translated one day!

英語訳はまだでていません!(私が訳して差し上げたいくらい!!!)柚木麻子さんの本、もっとひろく世界で読まれてほしいです。

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