[All the Lovers in the Night] hinges on this double bind created by the feminine ideal: the gloom spawned by a woman’s inevitable failure to measure up to impossible standards of beauty and likability, coupled with a lack of any other available framework through which she can view herself or her peers ... There is a cleverness with which All the Lovers in the Night addresses these changes, romantic and professional, in its protagonist’s life. By including alcoholism among them, Kawakami circumvents the shtick of stale 'glow-up' narratives, and preserves Fuyuko as a cipher ... What makes Kawakami’s novel so brilliant is an understanding of why women might willingly adhere to regressive modes of performative femininity, even while they criticize it. The desire to be loved is no small thing ... Kawakami’s novel is uncompromisingly candid in its appraisal of the harm women inflict on one another, while never losing sight of the overarching structures that lead them to do so in the first place. Compact and supple, it’s a strikingly intelligent feat.
... engrossing, fine-boned ... deftly translated ... Night, for this author, is an uncanny space where anything can happen, and narrator Fuyuko Irie’s preface unfurls as evocative fragments ... adroitly plays off collective dissonance and sorrow. And with this consummate novel, Kawakami’s star continues to rise, pulsing against a night that’s anything but holy.
Kawakami doesn’t just assemble a tactile detail and park it in a scene. Sensation itself drives her scenes, the way the senses can steer a poem ... The startling vividness of Kawakami’s images draws the reader deeper into the emotional intensity of the scenes ... When Fuyuko reconnects with a now married childhood friend with two kids, I hoped Kawakami would scramble my prediction that this friend would be a quickly sketched stay-at-home wife in a sexless marriage. When two work friends each give Fuyuko a present, I hoped Kawakami would conjure a surprise other than the obvious symbolism of receiving the same generic gift from two of the few people in her life. In instances like these, the novel doesn’t seem as finely honed as Kawakami’s earlier books. The translation, too, sometimes falters into vernacular that seems out of place ... Throughout most of the novel, Bett and Boyd conjure the poet’s sensibility of Kawakami’s prose with great skill, and co-translation is a strange art ... This third Kawakami co-translation from Bett and Boyd contains ample evidence of a thriving collaboration. Their choices are especially strong in scenes where Fuyuko finds emotional relief in language ... Kawakami has good instincts for creating an air of suspense, although that’s not what sets her novels apart. It’s her ability to make the mere passing of time, choosing to step outside and be alive, seem like an event ... Kawakami has found a meaningful answer to the question of what to do with feelings. She releases them into novels.
Kawakami’s prose is gentle and the pace is lovely ... It is a book about small, almost unnoticeable victories, like standing up for oneself, making a friend, or touching another person’s skin ... I was deeply moved by Fuyuko’s cathartic journey and Kawakami’s wise rendering of it, and I expected the novel to end on a peaceful, pleasant note. Instead, its conclusion was bewildering and frustrating enough to make me whisper 'What?!' out loud, grimacing at my wall for a minute or two. All the Lovers in the Night ends in a way neither sentimental nor satisfying. It feels like a betrayal, a sensation I can’t believe wasn’t Kawakami’s intention. When one looks at the story’s arc from above, it shows a tentative upward crawl toward hope and then, almost out of nowhere, a brutal decline—the very way sexual assault can devastate a life in a matter of minutes ... This subtle, authoritative book offers important insights and could be a welcome companion for survivors, but it offers no answers (easy or otherwise).
... a deeply serious meditation on modern womanhood; its colloquial, confessional and conversational style and wondrous discourses on the nature of light lend an atmospheric tone devoid of melodrama. By portraying the specific with such intricacy, Kawakami invites all readers in.
All the Lovers in the Night delivers the Osakan author’s signature emotional punch in a simpler yet beautiful way ... As we learn more about Fuyuko’s past and the heartbreaking events that led to her seclusion, we find more similarities between ourselves and Fuyuko than we expected. There is gratification to be found here, in Kawakami’s understanding of how difficult it can be to move forward and take the next step, even – and most especially – when that means stepping out of your comfort zone ... All the Lovers in the Night is a marvellous treasure. Kawakami’s gentle, tranquil prose will sweep you away as you follow this story.
Kawakami doesn't go for the simple happy endings of fairy-tale romances; her characters are too real for that ... Deeply melancholy, All the Lovers in the Night isn't sad or depressing ... In typical Kawakami fashion, the book does close on the smallest of hopeful notes ... It's all very nicely done, without the easy satisfactions of and-they-lived-happily-ever-after fiction and instead offering deeper and more lasting ones; it aches with real life.
Kawakami was a blogger and a poet before becoming a novelist. Deftly translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, her prose retains the accessibility of a blog, with glimpses of lyricism ... By highlighting the inner lives of outsiders, Kawakami’s work takes aim at the social structures of class and gender. As in Breasts and Eggs, which explores reproductive autonomy, All the Lovers in the Night challenges societal strictures.
Commanding, introspective ... Adroitly interweaving pivotal moments of Fuyuko’s past, Kawakami expertly reveals how independence morphs into debilitating loneliness. Candid and searing, Kawakami’s latest is another brilliantly rendered portal into young women’s lives.
A sensational story of loneliness and friendship ... The author dazzles with her exploration of emotions and intertwining of lofty discussions of metaphysics with descriptions of Fuyuko’s routines, making her an extraordinary character who moves effortlessly between different worlds as she struggles to find herself ... An invigorating and empowering portrait. It’s a winner.
[Kawakami] surprises again in this thoughtful book about women, loneliness, and relationships ... Through Fuyuko and the women around her, Kawakami has created a rich and notable examination of the varied ways women choose to live their lives and the gains and losses that come with the choices they've made ... Kawakami writes with the tender and incisive sensibilities of a poet. She never prescribes the right way to live, but Fuyuko becomes a happier person because of her relationships with others. An unforgettable and masterful work.