Author: Ryu Murakami
Published: Japanese, 1997. English, Jan 2009 by Bloomsbury
Length: 207 pages
Warnings: Profanity, violence, graphic gore, animal cruelty, sex 17+
Other info: Ryu Murakami writes other psychological thrillers such as In the Miso Soup. Audition was made into a film.
Summary : Documentary-maker Aoyama hasn’t dated anyone in the seven years since the death of his beloved wife, Ryoko. Now, even his teenage son Shige has suggested he think about remarrying. So when his best friend Yoshikawa comes up with a plan to hold fake film auditions so that Aoyama can choose a new bride, he decides to go along with the idea. Of the thousands that apply, Aoyama only has eyes for Yamasaki Asami, a young, beautiful, delicate and talented ballerina with a turbulent past. But there is more to her than Aoyama, blinded by his infatuation, can see, and by the time he discovers the terrifying truth it may be too late.
Review: Seven years ago, Aoyama's wife died and since then, he's not dated anyone. But then his son and friend and many more people think he should re-marry, and Yoshikawa's plan is to hold an audition, asking just for those that are Aoyama's type of woman, for a film that they'll purposely not find funding for. So while the film won't get made, Aoyama's love life will be. Ballerina Yamasaki Asami is the one that catches his eye, and he falls hard and fast.
It's all rather slow and draggng on, with the main disturbing bit coming right at the last 20 pages. And when I say disturbing, I mean it. Animal cruelty and human cruelty both feature. Unless it was changed drastically, how the film rated a 15 from the British film ratings board (the only reason I read this book was because I needed to read some Japanese book and the 15 meant that I’d probably be ok with it) I don't know. And that last bit was written so well, so powerfully, that it was just...right...exactly why have we been given this extreme amount of blood, gore etc? While I love blood in my books and films, there are some times where it goes a bit too far. Audition is one of those books that takes it too far.
We understand the motives behind it. Very well. In her earlier life, Yamasaki was abused. Now she's grown up, she still doesn't trust men. And so when she takes something Aoyama says the wrong way, she decides he must be punished. Hence the ending.
As for the rest of the book, it’s generally slow. Kind of good, fairly slow, not amazing, but bearable.
We get a lot of back story to Aoyama and Yamasaki. Yamasaki's delivered through an essay and Aoyama's delivered as a chapter near the beginning.
The idea of having an audition to find a wife is interesting, a good idea that I really can't see happening realistically.
It was interesting to see Aoyama fall harder and harder in love with Yamasaki, while we could tell that she obviously wasn't good for him. It says something rather negative about love I suppose...
Overall: Strength 3 tea to an interesting book that wasn't really my kind of thing.