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  • Monika Satote

Japanese Literature : The Woman in the Purple Skirt , a Bizarre & Obsessive Book by Natsuko Imamura

There is a woman whom everyone calls "The woman in the purple skirt." Nobody knows anything about her. She does nothing special. She wakes up, buys her groceries, sits in the park, eats her buns, and does not speak to anyone. Still, it is so tough not to notice her. Everybody in the neighborhood always looks at her when she is out. It is like she amuses them, but nobody cares about what she does or whatsoever. But there is one person who is obsessed with her and would like to be her friend, i.e The woman in the yellow cardigan, our narrator. She follows the woman in the purple skirt everywhere, practically stalks her with no harmful intentions. She tries to catch all the details of her day. Looking at the unemployment and unending job hunt of the woman in the purple skirt, the woman in the yellow cardigan even helps her to get a job indirectly.

The story takes turns with this job. The woman in the purple skirt quickly gets used to the job and does so well that everyone starts talking about her. She is still unaware of the woman in the yellow cardigan’s presence and stalking. A lot of things happen in between, and one day, an incident finally makes these two women meet to never meet again, probably?

My Take:

When I started reading this, I got vibes like Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest release Whereabouts. Because I was getting constant glances into someone’s life. Some pages later, I lost this similarity because it suddenly turned into a thriller, a psychological one. I was going with the turns of events: A woman taking the morning bus, going to work, coming back, taking a day off, and another woman stalking her. What makes this book interesting is how cleverly everything is plotted. That’s the reason I would love to see a movie based on this book. That would be so interesting. You do not expect much, you do not get much, but between the descriptions of mundane things, this book explores the themes of female friendships, envy, obsession and loneliness. I also sensed some dark humor. The ending is open and leaves you unsettled. I sort of assumed the end in my way, but there could be multiple interpretations of this.

Overall, I liked this fairly short book for its thrill, uniqueness, language, and plot. I would recommend it to those who are used to open endings, reading about mundane things, and yearn for the books where things do not happen much but leave you thinking.

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