When Jennifer leaves the cold and damp of London for the sparkle and bustle of Tokyo, she imagines she’ll find a world full of cherry blossom festivals, ancient tea ceremonies and Geishas. What she gets instead is a cramped, shared apartment, harassment on the subway and a mind-numbing job as a hostess at the Blonde Chick Bar in Roppongi.
With a single, unintentional insult everything changes. She wakes up to find that she has been kidnapped by Shindo: a sadistic Yakuza demi-god who doesn’t take his loss of face easily. Caught between his hatred of all things foreign and a growing obsession with this blonde gaijin, he is determined to make her pay for her rejection in sadistic and degrading ways.
`A woman’s lot is to endure,’ says the fox spirit in her dreams, but Jennifer wonders whether there are indeed fates worse than death. Little by little, she finds out.
The story is undoubtedly controversial. It contains graphic scenes of non-consensual sex, some violence and issues of race and nationality.
Available for download here:
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From Chris Garcia-Sanchez’s review on Oh, Get A Grip!
Jennifer’s journey is ultimately one of person-hood. In the beginning she is expected to be an exotic bar girl, a manga book male fantasy of a woman. When she crosses that line and is kidnapped to sexual servitude to a monster she is still regarded as sub human, as a thing, a buffet of erogenous orifices and most of all disposable. As each emotional outrage is committed on her she begins to change and push back, asserting herself against Shindo whose humiliations underlie an expectation that a true woman should defend her honor by suicide. As she journeys from struggling for survival to struggling for person-hood she blossoms from a beaten down immigrant to something of a modern samurai.
I do love this novel. I love it for its audacity. I love it for the genuinely transgressive nature of its eroticism. It has that rare quality of boldly honest humanity on the dark fringes that only a literary black sheep, a remittance girl, can conceive.
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“Don’t tell me you would have accepted because it’s not true. You look at guys like me and all you see is lowlife. Look at me!” he demanded, pushing her onto her back. “Look at me and tell me the truth… before I slice off your tongue.”
“No,” she whispered.
“No, I wouldn’t have accepted.” Her voice broke as she started to cry. “Why?”
“Because… I’m scared of you.”
Lying there, pinning her down with his weight, she could feel the rage coursing through his body, and see it beneath the impossibly placid mask of his face…a faint ruddiness of skin beneath the eyes. He might choose to open or close the door to the furnace, but it was always burning white.
“So you should be.” His voice was quiet, suddenly almost calm. “You should be scared of me.”
He sat up, straddled her hips, and began to unbutton his shirt. Jennifer turned her head, fixing her gaze on the snow beyond the window. Now it was dark, all she could see was the flurry of white particles, illuminated by the light inside, brushing chaotically against the black pane.
Life was like that, she thought as she heard the fabric of his shirt rustle, sometimes you got elected president, sometimes you got raped. Life was mindless chaos.
“Look at me.”
It was hard to drag her gaze away from the window. There was something
stupidly Zen and comforting in the fact that she hadn’t done anything to get here. She was a snowflake that had brushed up against a plane of black obsidian.
“Look at me!” he barked.
She did, not really knowing what to make of what she saw. In the middle of
a room so empty and colourless it could masquerade for death, was an insurrection
of colour. From just beneath his collarbone, over the entire surface of his chest, to the black band of fabric at his waist, was a garden, a zoo, a kaleidoscopic riot. Across one shoulder and down the right arm, almost to the elbow, flaming peony petals rippled against the wings of Luna moths. On the other side, fat gold carp swam over his bicep in a sea of waving blue-green pond weed. On his chest, a storm of cherry blossoms engulfed a geisha, despite her parasol.
All the images that had drawn her to Japan, the mysteries and aesthetics, were etched on his skin. Her eyes pooled with new tears at the stupidity of it all. The bizarre idealization of a culture encapsulated on the flesh of a thug. She wasn’t an innocent,
a blameless snowflake, at all. She’d come looking for the quaint and the cute and the simplistic version of Japan herself. And now she would get what she deserved.
He misinterpreted her tears. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” she answered simply, because it was. It wasn’t real, but it was beautiful.
He got to his knees and turned to show her his back. One Kabuki samurai fought another in the foreground, while dragons in blue and tangerine did battle in the heavens. An epic struggle on both the spiritual and mortal plane, this was air and earth. Below, she assumed, the battle continued in fire and water.
“It’s beautiful,” she repeated, as he turned around again. She hoped it was what he wanted to hear.
“It should be. There was a lot of pain involved.”
He bent over her and began to unbutton the top of her dress. She didn’t attempt to stop him; it would be a waste of energy.
He pulled the edges of the dress aside and surveyed her bared chest. “Everything that is beautiful hurts.”