Snakes and Earrings

By Tatiana Craine

Ever wondered what it was like to kiss a snake? Okay, that’s a little extreme. How about this-are you curious about kissing someone with a forked tongue? That seems extreme, too. But in Hitomi Kanehara’s “Snakes and Earrings,” it’s something that happens every day.Kanehara won the Akutagawa Award in 2003 for “Snakes and Earrings,” her breakout novel about the gritty Japanese underground scene. The novel follows Lui, a 19-year-old woman who meets a rowdy delinquent with a forked tongue, Ama. The two hit it off immediately and Lui moves in with him straight away. After their first kiss, she also decides she needs to fork her tongue like Ama’s. Soon, the two spiral downwards into alcoholism, drug-use and self-mutilation.

Though “Snakes and Earrings” doesn’t seem like the typical light-read, the novel is a swift 128 pages following Lui’s tongue-forking process as she pierces her tongue and stretches it to the breaking point. For those trying to find a little controversy and danger this spring break, Kanehara’s book is an abrasive and alternative perspective on Japanese grunge. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to fork your tongue, look no further.