The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura is a somewhat unconventional book. It is a gripping psychological story, deeply entrenched in psychological themes. Not a racy thriller, not a romance, not a whodunnit…..I find it difficult to categorize, but then, this is a book that defies categorization.
Translated from the Japanese version by Lucy North, this novel draws the reader in slowly but pervasively into the mindscape of the narrator-the woman in the yellow cardigan. Her object of interest is the woman in the purple skirt- whom she hopes to strike a friendship with.
She follows the woman in the purple skirt and as the book unfurls one gets disconcerted at times to know about minutiae of the daily routine of the woman in the purple skirt. The narrator seems to be akin to a stalker who knows every move of the one she is following.
But the woman in the yellow cardigan is not a mere stalker. She is much more than that. This ‘slow thriller’ narrates this pursuit of the woman in the yellow cardigan, as she follows the woman in the purple skirt, slowly unfolding the inner workings of the mind and into the forms obsessions and loneliness can manifest as.
It may not set your heart racing at a fast pace, but gently and slowly it wrings something out of the reader. The reader experiences a different journey on reading this book. Slightly unnerving at times, the book keeps you guessing about the identity of the protagonist. And then, there is final unveiling.
If you wish to try something different in the realm of fiction, The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura may just be the right book. The book is a light read. The psychological strands simmering beneath the events in the novel enhance the experience of reading it. Sometimes drab mundane routine makes for an interesting story. It’s all about what you elicit from the nuances!