The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino, translated by Rebecca Copeland
Award-winning Japanese crime fiction writer Natsuo Kirino (Out; Grotesque) contributes to the latest installment of the “The Myths” series, originally published by Britain’s Canongate, in which contemporary writers retell myths. Previous volumes have included Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus and David Grossman’s Lion’s Honey: The Myth of Sampson.
Kirino here retells the eighth-century creation myth of Izanami and Izanaki – the original female and male gods whose union produced the Japanese islands – in a novel framing two sisters, one fated to become the next Oracle to serve the “realm of light,” the other who will serve the “realm of darkness.” Unwilling to accept her fate, Namima attempts an escape that damns her to Izanami’s Realm of the Dead. Readers will find echoes of Orpheus and Eurydice as well as Persephone and Demeter.
Verdict: Although inventive, the double narrative of sisters and gods – the former freeing, the latter bound to centuries-old history – never quite meshes, often feeling clumsily forced. Still, bestselling Kirino’s many devotees will likely provide a ready audience
Review: “Fiction,” Library Journal, May 1, 2013
Published: 2013 (United States)