No Sex and the Paradise City: A critical reading of Murata Sayaka’s Shōmetsu sekai (2015)

  • Anna Specchio University of Turin


Murata Sayaka is a controversial story writer who questions our current values of love, sex and the nuclear family, pivoting on issues like gender and power. In her novel Shōmetsu sekai (Dwindling World, 2015), she depicts a parallel Japan where sex has disappeared, and modern birth control technology is used by the population. Thus, the novel has been labelled as dystopic, and Murata’s readers think of her literary world as disturbing. In the Shōmetsu sekai scenario, gendered-based social differences disappear for the community wellbeing and the new biotechnology is used to improve social conditions. Therefore, should it be considered simply a dystopian work of fiction? By approaching the text from the perspective of feminism and posthumanism, and contextualizing it within Japanese society and Murata Sayaka’s literary framework, I argue that it is possible to consider Shōmetsu sekai as an example of utopic feminist work of fiction, and that the neutralization of sex as we know it today should be intended as a means of social improvement.


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Author Biography

Anna Specchio, University of Turin

Research Fellow in Japanese Language and Literature at the University of Turin, Anna Specchio’s research deals with contemporary Japanese Women’s Literature with a focus on the relationship between women and technology and women’s subjectivity in contemporary literature and media, that she analyses using a feminist studies and posthuman studies approach. She is also interested in the intersections between manga and literature. She has translated in Italian works by Higashino Keigo (“La colpa, Atmosphere Libri, 2016; and “Sotto il sole di Mezzanotte,” Giunti, 2018), Iwaki Kei (“Arrivederci, arancione,” Edizioni E/O, 2018), Kawamura Genki (“Se i gatti scomparissero dal mondo,” Einaudi, 2019; “Hyakka,” Einaudi, 2020), Sakuraba Kazuki (“Red Girls,” Edizioni E/0, 2019), Hayashi Mariko (“L’ultimo volo per Tokyo,” Atmosphere Libri, 2020), as well as different manga, among which works by Shinkai Makoto, Nishi Keiko and Anno Moyoko. 

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