Natsuo Kirino, the second of three children, moved to Tokyo with her family when she was 14. Married at 24, when she became a mother at 30 she began writing and at 41 made her major debut on the Japanese literary stage. Since then she has written 13 novels and three volumes of short stories. A graduate of the law department of Seikei University, Kirino had a variety of jobs before she came to writing. Beginning with romance novels of the 'bodice-ripper' variety, Kirino quickly migrated to hard-boiled crime where she has had immense success.
Kirino's Out is the first of her books to be translated into English. "The reaction to Out was one of shock. Men were very shocked that a wife could kill her husband, but the most shocking part of it for many people is that it's written by a married woman who has a family and a child," she says.
Out's four main characters are representations of women in modern Japanese society. "In Japan, gender roles are fairly rigid," explains Kirino. "Masako is a symbol of Japanese women who cannot be promoted in society. Kuniko represents the rampant consumerism Japan went through in the 1980s. Yoshie lives in poverty, and takes care of her ailing mother-in-law, and Yayoi is the typical housewife in the family, always less than the man."
Kirino researches her stories carefully, always visiting the places in which they are set "so I know how the wind blows, how the asphalt feels". For Out, she researched dismemberment murder cases. While doing so she discovered that there have been a number of women responsible for these kinds of crimes, "perhaps largely because corpses are too heavy for women to carry."
Kirino's only book in English is Out. Grotesque and Soft Cheeks are both being translated into English, with no set North American release dates.