“Disquieting and wryly funny, The Woman in the Purple Skirt is a taut and compelling depiction of loneliness and obsession.” --Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train
A bestselling, prizewinning novel by one of Japan's most acclaimed young writers, for fans of Convenience Store Woman, the novels of Ottessa Moshfegh, and the movies Parasite and Rear Window
I think what I'm trying to say is that I've been wanting to become friends with the Woman in the Purple Skirt for a very long time...
Almost every afternoon, the Woman in the Purple Skirt sits on the same park bench, where she eats a cream bun while the local children make a game of trying to get her attention. Unbeknownst to her, she is being watched--by the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, who is always perched just out of sight, monitoring which buses she takes, what she eats, whom she speaks to.
From a distance, the Woman in the Purple Skirt looks like a schoolgirl, but there are age spots on her face, and her hair is dry and stiff. She is single, she lives in a small apartment, and she is short on money--just like the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, who lures her to a job as a housekeeper at a hotel, where she too is a housekeeper. Soon, the Woman in the Purple Skirt is having an affair with the boss and all eyes are on her. But no one knows or cares about the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan. That's the difference between her and the Woman in the Purple Skirt.
Studiously deadpan and chillingly voyeuristic, The Woman in the Purple Skirt explores envy, loneliness, power dynamics, and the vulnerability of unmarried women in a taut, suspenseful narrative about the sometimes desperate desire to be seen.
About the Author
Natsuko Imamura is one of Japan's most exciting writers. Nominated three times for the Akutagawa Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Japan, she won it in 2019, for The Woman in the Purple Skirt. A self-professed fan of Yoko Ogawa's, she has been called "a second Sayaka Murata" (the author of Convenience Store Woman) for her use of acerbic humor and satire. Born in Hiroshima, she now lives in Osaka with her husband and their daughter. Like the main character in The Woman in the Purple Skirt, she has worked in a hotel as a housekeeper.
“I’m a sucker for tales about female friendships that slide into obsession. . . . Not just another cheap thriller with a ‘you can’t trust anyone’ conceit, Imamura’s latest is like Anita Brookner’s Look at Me, reimagined by a surrealist.” ―Hillary Kelly, Vulture
“I tore through this novel. Grippingly and intimately told, with prose as tight as a wire, The Woman in the Purple Skirt is a quick and powerful jab to the heart.” ―Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins
“Imamura offers her readers crisp, refreshing prose. The Woman in the Purple Skirt will keep you firmly in its grip with its persistent, disquieting, matter-of-fact style.” ―Oyinkan Braithwaite, bestselling author of My Sister, the Serial Killer
“A breathless novel that depicts with sly humor the strange relationship between two women in contemporary Japan. You too will be obsessed with the Woman in the Purple Skirt and held in suspense until the last page.” ―Leila Slimani, bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny
“Delightful, droll, and menacing, this novel about a seemingly harmless obsession could be the love child of Eugene Ionesco and Patricia Highsmith.” ―Kelly Link, bestselling author of Get in Trouble
“Very powerful . . . Meticulous and extremely precise . . . Reading this book made me feel like I was in an unstable and strange world.” ―Sayaka Murata, bestselling author of Convenience Store Woman
“Imamura definitely has a rare talent for depicting people who are a little out of the ordinary. . . . By the time I got to the end, a powerful sense of the narrator’s loneliness forcing its way through the madness gripped my heart.” ―Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police
“Reading this novel, you can really hear Natsuko Imamura’s unique voice, which comes across quite unsparingly and beautifully.” ―Hiromi Kawakami, author of Strange Weather in Tokyo and The Nakano Thrift Shop
“A superb story . . . I was mesmerized by this narrator. Unlikable men who hold our sympathy are frequently found in fiction, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a woman as unappealing as this one who still managed to keep me completely beguiled.” ―Shuichi Yoshida, author of Villain
“The Woman in the Purple Skirt expertly balances the mundane and the extraordinary, never swerving too far toward one side. With clinical prose and a wry sense of humor, Imamura shows us that the most powerful portrayal of loneliness is through not the self, but the projection of the self onto another.” ―An Yu, author of Braised Pork
“Graceful . . . The narrator’s intense one-way nonsexual desire creates an off-balance frisson of strangeness . . . infused with the power of fascination. . . . [For] psychological thriller fans who appreciate subtlety.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Readable and entertaining . . . It’s as if a mirage appeared and then suddenly disappeared. . . . A mysterious novel.” ―Shukan Shincho
“Horrifying, humorous, whimsical, and disturbing . . . It will remain with you.” ―Tokyo Shimbun