The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Normal people quietly go about their lives on a sleepy island where memories collectively vanish a bit at a time. But what happens to the people who can’t forget?
Masks by Fumiko Enchi
Two cultured and handsome men compete for the affections of a beautiful young widow while her devious mother-in-law manipulates their relationships from the shadows.
The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura
The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan is intrigued by the Woman in the Purple Skirt – so intrigued that she follows her every move and investigates every detail of her private life.
All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe
Pursued by debt collectors, loan sharks, and yakuza henchmen, a woman vanishes, leaving behind a trail of false identities and broken lives.
The Eighth Day by Mitsuyo Kakuta
A desperate woman, spurned by her married lover, kidnaps his child and goes on the run. Now an adult, the kidnapped child has no memory of this and must piece together what happened from interviews and newspaper clippings.
Penance by Kanae Minato
A young girl is assaulted and killed in a small rural town, and the murderer is never caught. Years later, a series of letters from the girl’s mother forces her former friends to reflect on what they knew and what they could never tell anyone.
The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike
A family moves into an inexpensive apartment next to a graveyard, but their hopes for a new life are shattered as strange and inexplicable things begin to happen in their building.
There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura
A woman suffering from burnout leaves her white-collar position and goes to a temp agency, requesting that she be placed in an “easy” job. There’s no such thing as an easy job, however, and it stands to reason that companies who are desperate for temp workers have shady ulterior motives.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
An unmarried woman finds joy and meaning in the comfortable routine of working at a convenience store. When pressured by her family and friends to quit her job and find a partner, how far will she go to prove that she’s “normal”?
Real World by Natsuo Kirino
A teenage boy from an affluent Tokyo suburb kills his mother in a fit of explosive rage. The friends of the girl next door decide to help him escape and gradually succumb to the darkness at the core of their seemingly perfect lives at a prestigious private high school.
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The illustration above is by James of ShelfWornDrawn, whose work can be found on Instagram (here) and on Tumblr (here). You can commission a portrait of your own library via his Etsy page (here).
5 thoughts on “Japanese Suspense Novels by Female Authors”
Great picks, I’ve read them all, so good!
Thank you so much! It seems we are partners in having excellent taste. ✨
Some I’ve read, some I don’t know yet, I will check them out. For me its hard to group Ogawa, Kirino and Murata into the same genre but I see that there is indeed suspense in all of those titles. I could pair Kirino with Minato though.
To be honest, my reasoning behind this list was “books I like, mainly because of their elements of darkness and uncertainty. I definitely wouldn’t categorize them all as “suspense.” The truth is that ShelfWornDrawn opened commissions, and I immediately ordered one without putting too much thought into the matter. Once I saw his finished artwork, I wanted an excuse to share it. If I had any idea this post would attract any attention at all, I would have been more deliberate and selective. Ah, well. If someone stumbles across this and finds something new and interesting to read, that’s the most important thing.
Don’t worry about attracting attention, talking about books we enjoy is exactly why book blogs exist! I certainly discover plenty of new titles to read through your posts!