Cover Image: All The Lovers In The Night

All The Lovers In The Night

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Member Reviews

I loved it! The more Japanese books we get the better, und Kawakami is a great writer. I liked the story and style very much
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This is the first book I have read by this author despite having Breast and Eggs on my bookshelf and I'm glad I've read this.
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'Why is the night so beautiful? Why does it shine the way it does? Why is the night made up entirely of light?'

Another stunning and profoundly affecting novel from Mieko Kawakami, this is the story of thirty-something Fuyoko Irie, a freelance proofreader who leads a solitary and pretty miserable life. She starts drinking in the evenings, which quickly develops into the mornings too. Inspired to try and shake up her existence, she tries to enrol for a community class but instead meets a man, Mr Mitsutsuka, and starts a tentative relationship based on conversations over coffee, mostly about light and music.

As ever, Kawakami is subtle enough to give the reader enough information to make connections and understand the deeper aspects of the book. Fuyoko's role as a proofreader means a professional detachment from the content, focussing entirely on the grammar and punctuation; hence, her detachment from life is perfectly natural to her. Her fear of relationships is placed against other couples that we see: her friend/editor Hijiri and her string of lovers and lack of commitment, and her old school friend whom she meets after years with no contact, a mother whose husband is unfaithful. No-one is happy, and no-one really is who they seem to be. 

Kawakami avoids the easy way with her characters. The unsaid and the slightly opaque make her works a subtle joy, where the smallest incident or word can have devastating consequences. Fuyoko's journey to some sort of self-awakening is a slow and troubling one, and the book ends with a suitably open ambiguity. What is clear, however, is that Mieko Kawakami is an urgent and important voice in modern literature, and her books are small, perfect wonders. 5 stars.

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)
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It's a beautiful and sad novel, with the main character going back and forth and barely moving at times... I enjoyed the main character and her life as a translator, and the atmosphere, gloomy and mundane... The format of the ebook had errors which made it difficult to read at times but I still managed to enjoy this one.
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Having enjoyed Mieko Kawakami's previous two novels, I was excited to land an advance copy of her latest work translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd,This one takes a different approach to Heaven, but it does cover similar themes, with a withdrawn protagonist doing their best to make it through the day without suffering too much.  

All the Lovers in the Night marks a return to the adult concerns of Breasts and Eggs, albeit with a very different protagonist.  Fuyuko is a woman who hides herself away, keeping in minimal contact with the outside world.  She works from home, there’s no mention of family, and there’s no sign of any real friends as such, a fact she’s well aware of: A chance encounter with Mitsutsuka, a high-school teacher in his fifties, that changes this, gradually raising what little hope she has of a good life

Kawakami focuses just as much on Fuyuko’s drab life, showing how she lives from day to day, what she does and, more importantly, what she doesn’t do when she’s alone.  Unsurprisingly, there’s a traumatic event at the root of her issues, one she must confront if she’s to move on, and Kawakami again shows herself capable here of shocking her readers.

All the Lovers in the Night is well-written, engaging and absorbing without ever becoming too saccharine.  It’s confronting in places as Fuyuko starts to fall apart, but it can be beautiful at times, too, particularly when she stops to examine the world around her:
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Such a beautifully written novel - Mieko Kawakami truly captures the emotions of isolation and loneliness without it ever feeling self indulgent or pitiful. The way she constructs sentences is just masterful, and I love reading her character’s navigate through the world.
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This is a difficult book to review for me, because I felt every single word and it hit so very close to home.

I love Japanese literature, there's something so special in the way reality is depicted, so poetical and imaginative, and raw at the same time. 

Writing style seems simple and linear, but simple words can be used to describe complex worlds and realities.

I think Fuyuko and her life will stay for you for a long time after reading this book, at least that's what happened to me.

I highly recommend All The Lovers In The Night if you know and love Japanese authors, but also if you want to approach them for the first time.

Thank you to NetGalley ant the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a beautiful, haunting book. Fuyuko is a freelance proofreader living in Tokyo. In her thirties, she lives alone and has little contact with anyone apart from work colleague, Hijiri. But things start to shift when by chance she encounters a man, Mitsutsuka. 
The novel takes a tender if troubling look at loneliness, friendship, anxiety and love - and tackles the effects of trauma, alcoholism and depression. 
It’s a deeply human, thoughtful novel written in perfect prose. 
I loved it - go read it! 
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. All views are my own.
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I love Mieko Kawakami and was so excited to be able to read this - unfortunately the formatting of the ARC meant I couldn't finish the book. At first I thought it was on purpose because of the character's job as an editor, but it eventually became unreadable and confusing. I love the author though so will be buying myself a copy for my collection anyway! Thank you!
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Unfortunately I’ve had to abandon this ARC as there is a problem with the formatting. There are passages that appear multiple times inserted in the wrong place making it unreadable. Ironic given it’s a book about a proofreader! I hope to return to the book at a later date. Many thanks.
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A growing interest in all things Japanese and a protagonist who shares my day job meant I was powerless to resist requesting this book. While I came for the proofreading, I stayed for the engaging characters and world. In Fuyuko, Mieko Kawakami has created a really interesting character. Having been introduced to her as someone who finds it difficult to interact with other people, I found the title intriguing. How would such a solitary person relate to that? Fuyuko’s internal monologue hits the spot; even those of us without her level of social anxiety run through myriad scenarios and can overthink the simplest of things.
My heart really went out to Fuyuko; she’s profoundly lonely and making bad decisions, not least some weapons-grade self-medication with alcohol. I found it curious that she never mentioned her family, even when recounting a story from her school days. But she does have a couple of friends, of a sort – the outgoing Hijiri and quiet Mitsutsuka. I found the book quite philosophical in places; Hijiri’s profession of trust versus reliance is quite profound. And what tragedy to feel bad enough about one’s life to invent a new one.
All The Lovers In The Night has interesting things to say about women and how they relate to one another. And I must find out more about oshibori – they’re mentioned more often than seems casual. The translation from the Japanese by Sam Bett and David Boyd flows really well although there were a couple of word choices related to something female that stood out. Perhaps the oddest thing about it though is the title. It is only mentioned right at the end and it seemed quite arbitrary to me; a minor quibble. I think I can add this to the long list of much-enjoyed books about which 20 years ago I’d have said ‘nothing happens’ but in which, really, the whole of life occurs.
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This is the first book I have read by this author and it wont be the last.
Her writing is just fantastic and I found this book quite moving, the way it covers love, loneliness and human connection. I usually prefer faster paced books but I really enjoyed absorbing the words and there are many lines I have highlighted and will return to which is not something I find myself doing often.
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I am a big fan of Kawakami’s work since reading Breasts and Eggs and this new novel does not disappoint.  Completely absorbing and subtly affecting.
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This novel is more of a character study than a story per se. We meet our protagonist, Fuyuko Irie, and perceive the world from her perspective. She's an extreme introvert who struggles to make connections with anyone: the office drinks she turns down, the office socials she turns down, etc. Eventually, she's just shunned by her colleagues and quits for a freelance job in the same field where she gets to be even more isolated and introverted - it's here that she meets Hijiri, the extrovert who won't let Fuyuko retreat completely into her shell. After taking up drinking (and spending large portions of her days intoxicated), Fuyuko also meets Mitsutsuka and starts having coffee dates with him. Will either of these connections last?

Is Fuyuko a likeable character? Not really - she struggles with emotions and has solved this by just not having them and not thinking about them. This makes time in her company somewhat frustrating - she doesn't really have any thoughts or any opinions about anything. Hijiri certainly appreciates Fuyuko as a friendly ear to let off steam to and Mitsutsuka enjoys teaching her about physics and western classical music. However, Fuyuko is a very diligent and efficient proof reader and some of the most interesting passages in the work are the descriptions/jargon of the proofreading business and the meticulous care it requires as well as the frustrations of never being able to get it 100% right all the time.

Overall this is an interesting read and please note that the translation is into American English.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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A quiet, tender look at a very mundane life.
I related a lot to Fuyuko and her simple routine, how she felt safety in her isolation, and her anxieties over the emptiness of her life.
This is a slice of life narrative, very character driven and sometimes almost static, but I felt a warmth in this novel that made it very easy to read and very hard to put down.
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My proof copy seemed illegible due to a repeating paragraph. This made it very difficult to read.

I still found what I had read intriguing and will be interested in reading this in the future.
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The translation for this one is quite good. I really wanted to like this one but instead I didn't enjoy it a bit due to the proof having many problems and issues, most of the text was repeated over and over again
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Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. She works and lives alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships. She has little regular contact with others except for her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyoku stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, she sees a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who lacks the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it.

However, as the long-overdue change occurs, painful episodes from Fuyuko's past surface and her behaviour slips further and further beyond the pale. All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh and make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it. 

It didn't make me laugh or cry, but I enjoyed this read very much. 190 people have collectively rated this at 3.73 on Goodreads and it doesn't fall below 4 for me.

If you're looking for a complicated plot you won't find it here. This is a slice of life novel, which means it uses a narrative technique where the reader sees glimpses of the character's life, with mainly a sequence of events presented without a great emphasis on plot development,in these novels there doesn't have to be a glaring central conflict or a definitive resolution. I think there's central conflict in a rare flashback when we come out of Fuyuko's usual day-to-day and experience some of her past. 

The ending was also satisfactory for me, but it is subtle. There's nothing grandiose about the story. It is a tender story about a woman in her thirthies trying to find her way back to reconnecting with her world and her life. 

Those are my general thoughts and if you don't like too much detail before reading a book, you may not want to continue reading as I am now going to touch on some themes.


The novel is slow at the start, and this emphasizes how repetitive and mundane Fuyuko's life is. Scenes pick up in pace when we have Hijiri involved; she is vibrant and is Fuyuko's opposite in many ways. She always seems to be going out, she dates different men, and likes to be seen. The only things she shares with Fuyuko are a strong work ethic, being in her thirties and seeking connection - which is perhaps evident in her friendliness toward Fuyuko, and her dating approach. We then have an old friend of Fuyuko's discussing how marriage and parenthood aren't what she envisaged. Three women in their thirties who've got very different lives - one celibate, one is dating widely, one in a committed relationship; all somehow disconnected and isolated in their ways. 

Something about how the intricate details got me invested in Fuyuko's story. On the surface she is as lacklustre as she feels, but what we find with the gentle unravelling of her story is that Fuyuko is as equally capable of vibrance as Hijiri. When I consider the setting and characters, I think of words like radiance, glow, and vibrance. Light suffuses the whole book and it's is something Fuyuko has a fascination for. It is a subject that she gets to discuss when a tentative arrangement develops between her and a man named Mitsutsuka. 

"As I took in the night, I saw that Mitsutsuka's shirt was glowing white, from his shoulders down his back. It glowed in a way that reminded me of the smells of winter. Floating in the tide of summer washing over us were signs and streetlights, lights from cars and countless other lights, but the light coming from Mitsutsuka's shirt was foreign to this summer night."

If you've read the book when you watch this review, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Remember to add Spoiler at the start of the comment if you go into details. In particular, I wonder whether you feel as I do that as much as she keeps to herself, Fuyuko has a beautiful capacity for seeing the light in others. She doesn't acknowledge that she has that same spark, but she appreciates it in those around her. I think that she and Mitsutsuka saw potential in one another that they couldn't see within themselves.

My thanks to Netgalley and publisher Picador for an ARC
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It is definitely an interesting novel about loneliness and anxiety. It’s a slice-of-life narrative and if you’re looking for plot then maybe skip on this one. However, if you want a character study, this is definitely it!

Although, this is a character study none of the protagonists can be called anywhere near likeable. They are all quite depressing and self-involved, with their own set of problems and unhappiness.

Nothing can be said about the beautiful writing, however, I felt like something was missing for the book to be completely well-rounded and finished. The discussion about loneliness, anxiety and coping mechanism was well drawn out but the interactions were somehow feeling a bit too superficial for this in-depth study of human feelings. 

Overall, the story is bleak and almost hopeless until the end, which I’m not sure I’m on board with. I just wish a bit more of a shimmer of light could be seen towards the end of the book as for the amount of talk about light and colours that there is in this book, the whole feels all shaded grey. Don’t go into it without reading the trigger warnings or being in a good state of mind as it is a quite depressing albeit realistic story.
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Thank you to NetGalley and PanMacMillan for the e-ARC.

Fuyuko Irie works as a freelance proofreader. She is in her mid-thirties, and works from home, which leaves her isolated and something of a loner. Her only friend, Hijiri, is also in charge of her workload, and so even this friendship is somewhat unusual. In an effort to get out more, Fuyuko decides to sign up for adult classes in a subject she knows nothing about - here, she meets Mitsutsuka, an older physics teacher, and her isolated world starts to open up.

This is my second Kawakami book, after ‘Heaven’ (now shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize!), which I thought was fine, though not particularly special. This book I enjoyed much more. Like ‘Heaven’, the novel is small in scope and largely propelled by the thoughts and contemplations of the main character, a societal outsider who struggles to make connections. 

Kawakami’s writing is instantly funny and endearing, but also touches on deep philosophical themes. Fuyuko’s quiet lifestyle leaves her interactions with other characters quite limited, in stark contrast to Hijiri, who talks in long, sprawling passages about feminism and the nature of authenticity. In these sections, Kawakami introduces the major themes of the novel - Hijiri talks in one section about whether her emotions are truly her own, or if she is simply “quoting” something she has read in a book or seen in a film. This idea is referenced again later when Fuyuko begins pushing herself out of her comfort zone, borrowing clothes from Hijiri and using make-up that she wouldn’t normally. Kawakami invites the reader to question what it means to be authentic - do people have a true nature? Is Fuyuko opening up to the world and growing as a person, or is she just “quoting” the way her more personable and outgoing friend acts?

The romance of the novel is slow and subtle - Fuyuko finds herself gradually falling for and obsessing over a man she knows little about, and their conversations focus more on science and music than themselves as people. In this sense, Fuyuko’s deepest and most meaningful connection is based not on shared experiences or interests, but because he shows her genuine kindness. Their conversations are short and tame, but as Fuyuko comes to accept that this connection is important to her and feelings develop, Kawakami’s imagery leads to beautiful and moving scenes.

I did have issues with the ending of the novel, and I’m not convinced that it is entirely effective. A deeply satisfying climactic scene ends abruptly, and the novel is capped off with a chapter that serves as more of an epilogue than an ending. It all feels a little rushed in a novel that has really taken its time to develop relationships with the characters. Rather than resolution, the novel left me feeling as if it had been building to something that never quite came.

The translation by Sam Bett and David Boyd is excellent, natural and flowing, and Kawakami’s messaging comes through clearly and forcefully. Overall, highly recommended - thoughtful, engaging and easy to read.
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