Ryu Murakami’s Piercing is a psychological thriller that explores how violence can poison the well of the soul, even if we spend our entire lives trying to hold it at bay. Some traumas run too deep and their dangers might not manifest until it’s too late.
Piercing follows Kawashima Masayuki, an everyday man trying to outrun the terrors of his past. He has a wife, a newborn infant, and every night he must resist the overwhelming urge to stab his child with an icepick. Afraid that one day he won’t be able to stop himself, Kawashima resolves to enact his derangements on a lowly prostitute. What he doesn’t know is that his would be victim may be just as emotionally disturbed as he is.
Murakami does not use violence in his short novel like a blunt instrument, clubbing away at his readers until they are numb. Instead, he uses it with a surgeons precision to invoke profound revulsion and maybe even pity. The truth is we all have someone in our lives whose traumas eat away at them until there’s nothing left. It’s not so much an analysis on how people can commit such atrocities as it is an attempt to understand why seemingly normal individuals find a need to express themselves through heinous acts.