This thesis examines the ways in which Kirino Natsuo’s 1997 psychological crime thriller Auto (Out), a shocking story of four Japanese housewives-turned-criminals, underscores the relationships between recent economic trends and persisting social inequalities in contemporary Japan. In Auto, Kirino underscores the ways in which late capitalist employment trends—and specifically the expansion of wage relations and flexiblization of employment—have served to solidify, rather than dismantle, the problematic relationship between Japanese labor practices and modern identity politics. Diverging from conventional readings of the novel—which perceive its principle concerns to be domesticity and the Japanese female experience of urbanity—this thesis examines Kirino’s portrayals of laboring bodies, both male and female, Japanese and non-Japanese, within the text, underscoring her eminent concern with production and consumption not only as economic activities but also as oppressive ideologies to which her characters are subject both within and outside of the productive labor sphere. Moreover, this analysis considers the implications of the protagonist Masako’s triumph over her rapist, as well as her decision to extricate herself from the defining work and relationships in which she participates, beyond the scope of conventional discourse regarding rape. In doing so, it argues that the novel’s conclusion, while situated around an ostensibly private encounter, seeks to undermine justifications for the very public problem of labor inequality in contemporary Japan. Ultimately, this thesis aims to illustrate that the popularity of Japanese crime fiction does not rely on the reproduction of historical genre conventions, but rather stems from the genre’s capacity to offer readers a critical lens through which to examine a vast array of ever-evolving and inextricably related socio-economic realities.
|Advisor:||Brown, Janice C.|
|Commitee:||Brown, Janice C., Kleeman, Faye Y., Shimazaki, Satoko|
|School:||University of Colorado at Boulder|
|Department:||East Asian Language and Literature|
|School Location:||United States -- Colorado|
|Source:||MAI 49/06M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Modern literature, Asian literature|
|Keywords:||Japanese labor, Japanese literature, Kirino Natsuo, Modern Japan|
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