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“Earthlings” by Sayaka Murata

I have been fervently recommended to read this novel by my friends.

This story poses a big question mark to our pre-conceived notions, above all our “common sense” where it is taken for granted that people are born, work, get married, and give birth to children. Each one of us is molded into a “productive” being. If we fail to be one, we will get branded unfit and isolated and cut off from the society. The protagonist acutely doubts that normalcy and jolts it away. She struggles not to be incorporated into the world of earthlings, which are brainwashed and trained to be such beings.

Certainly, one of the biggest themes Murata tackles here is gender. However, these ostracizing acts can be found in various facets of our lives. The protagonist resists being an earthling, tenaciously sticking with her identity of coming from another planet. Personally, I was impressed with her depiction of dense darkness in Nagano as well. This story is such a page turner. Her language is vivid and evocative.

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