Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Asian Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Janice C. Brown

Second Advisor

Faye Kleeman

Third Advisor

Satoko Shimazaki


Diverging from conventional readings of the novel, this thesis examines the ways in which the image of laboring bodies in Kirino Natsuo's 1997 crime thriller Auto underscores the author's eminent concern with production and consumption not only as economic activities but also as oppressive ideologies to which her characters are subject both within and outside of the productive labor sphere. Moreover, in examining the protagonist Masako's triumph over her rapist beyond the scope of conventional discourse regarding rape, it argues that the novel's conclusion, while situated around an ostensibly private encounter, seeks to undermine justifications for the problem of labor inequality in contemporary Japan. In doing so, this thesis seeks to illustrate that as a genre, Japanese crime fiction embodies the capacity to offer readers a critical lens through which to examine a vast array of ever-evolving and inextricably related socio-economic realities.