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Don’t let the title fool you. The long-awaited English translation of Mieko Kawakami’s novel “Breasts and Eggs” is not some elevated, literary piece of Japanese chick lit. It’s a novel of humanity, a multifaceted consideration of the fundamental question: What does it mean to exist?

That Kawakami considers the idea and all its implications from a mostly female viewpoint, covering contemporary issues such as sex work, single motherhood, beauty and gender norms, societal isolation and meaningful vocation does not diminish its universality. It heightens it.

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