book cover of The Woman in the Purple Skirt
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The Woman in the Purple Skirt

(2021)
A novel by

 
 
“A taut and compelling depiction of loneliness and obsession.” --Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train
 
“[It] will keep you firmly in its grip.” --Oyinkan Braithwaite, bestselling author of My Sister, the Serial Killer
 
“The love child of Eugene Ionesco and Patricia Highsmith.” --Kelly Link, bestselling author of Get in Trouble
 
A bestselling, prizewinning novel by one of Japan's most acclaimed young writers, for fans of Convenience Store Woman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, 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, and with the off-kilter appeal of the novels of Ottessa Moshfegh, 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.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"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

"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

"Reading this novel, you can really hear Natsuko Imamura’s unique voice, which comes across quite unsparingly and beautifully." - Hiromi Kawakami

"The Woman in the Purple Skirt is like a love story overheard on a park bench. It’s a thriller about commutes, work schedules, and unemployment. It’s a bottle of hotel shampoo that makes its way into your shower, and you can’t seem to remember how it got there. What profound and giddy prose; I could not put this book down. Imamura is a glorious architect of perspective, surprising and breaking this reader’s heart at every turn." - Hilary Leichter

"Delightful, droll, and menacing, this novel about a seemingly harmless obsession could be the love child of Eugene Ionesco and Patricia Highsmith." - Kelly Link

"Very powerful . . . Meticulous and extremely precise . . . Reading this book made me feel like I was in an unstable and strange world." - Sayaka Murata

"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." - Yôko Ogawa

"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

"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." - Leïla Slimani

"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


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Used availability for Natsuko Imamura's The Woman in the Purple Skirt

Hardback Editions

June 2021 : UK Hardback
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Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt: A Novel
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
ISBN: 0-14-313602-X / 978-0-14-313602-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

June 2022 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
ISBN: 0-14-313603-8 / 978-0-14-313603-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


May 2022 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
ISBN: 0-571-36468-3 / 978-0-571-36468-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK   


June 2021 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt: Natsuko Imamura
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
ISBN: 0-571-36467-5 / 978-0-571-36467-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

June 2021 : USA Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   


June 2021 : UK Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK   


June 2021 : USA Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt: A Novel
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura, Lucy North - translator
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon   


June 2021 : Canada Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt: A Novel
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura, Lucy North - translator
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

June 2021 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
thumb

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt: A Novel
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
Publisher: Penguin Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


June 2021 : Australia, UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt
Author(s): Natsuko Imamura
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU