Book review: 『告白』 by Kanae Minato


Title: 『告白』 (こくはく)
Author: Kanae MINATO (湊かなえ)
Published by 双葉文庫 (ふたばぶんこ)
317 pages

『告白』 is Kanae Minato’s debut novel and her most famous work. It has been translated into English by Stephen Snyder. There is a film adaptation directed by Tetsuya Nakashima (中島哲也) with Takako Matsu (松たか子) in the role of Yuko Moriguchi.


Wow, this book is so good, definitely one of my favourite mystery novels so far! Why on earth did I not read this book sooner? 😅 And how can this be a debut novel? 😮

To be honest, I did not love all Kanae Minato’s books that I have read, so I was not in a hurry to read 『告白』 even though I had it sitting on my shelf for years, and I knew that it was universally praised.

Reading this book has been quite a shock. It is so good! You are instantaneously dragged into the story by the first-person narrator’s voice and you just cannot stop reading. When the first chapter is over and you feel that you are already emotionally drained, you realise that things are only just starting and the rest will be much more disturbing.

Fantastic characters sudies

All the characters of the story are extremely complex, with very interesting personalities and emotional patterns. The mystery at the centre of the novel seems very simple at first, but once you hear several characters telling their version of the event, you start seeing the complex and subtle accumulations of triggers that have led to it. It was fascinating to see how the characters’ weaknesses influenced their behaviour.

Numerous twists

I have rarely read a book that had me change my mind so many times. Kanae Minato really tricks the reader into forming preconceived and harsh opinions about characters to completely blow up your judgements in the next chapter.

What is disturbing is that this novel makes you understand the motivations that led to abominable acts, and even sympathise with their perpetrators. Reading this book really made me go through a lot of different emotional states, while being engrossing all along.

Illustration: 「ムクという黒い大きな犬を飼われているお宅です」p.23