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Publisher's Summary

The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma.

When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko, and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emily by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurred: Emily was found murdered hours later.

Sae, Maki, Akiko, and Yuko weren't able to accurately describe the stranger's appearance to the police after Emily's body was discovered. Asako, Emily's mother, cursed the surviving girls, vowing that they would pay for her daughter's murder.

Like Confessions, Kanae Minato's award-winning, internationally best-selling debut, Penance is a dark and voice-driven tale of revenge and psychological trauma that will leave listeners breathless.

©2017 Kanae Minato (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Moving, tension-filled...Minato has crafted an unnerving tale of tragedy, guilt, and penance." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Kanae Minato is a brilliant storyteller." (Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times best-selling author of Station Eleven)
"Minato's simple, clear voice highlights the stories' psychological intensity, and themes of powerlessness evolving to strength, duty, and redemption create layers of interest that are perfect for book-group dissection." ( Booklist)

Featured Article: 10 Famous Japanese Authors You Have to Hear


Thanks to the work of translators and publishers, Japanese literature is now more accessible than ever to English-speaking audiences. If you've ever wanted to learn more about Japanese culture and literature, you cannot go wrong with listening to audiobooks from Japan. We've compiled a list of the most famous Japanese authors who have helped define Japanese literature, and their notable works across genres and time periods.

What listeners say about Penance

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as Confessions...

... or the Kiyoshi Kurosawa mini-series adaption of this book. Like Confessions, the story's told by multiple narrators. Each is haunted by a tragic event in the past. An event they are never able to escape, especially since one narrator never lets them forget it. The premise is intriguing, but the multiple narratives never come together as a whole, they way they did in Confessions.

The reader's good, for the most part, but does mispronounce Japanese words now and then.

3 people found this helpful

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​Didn't Really Follow Through

​I was hoping that "Penance" would be another "Confessions", but there was no follow through. The murder mystery didn't go anywhere in my opinion and unlike Kanae Minato's first book, there wasn't any morbid twist and turns. I was disappointed with the reader also. Instead of having a Japanese accent, Karissa Vacker had a southern accent and she sounded like that she grew up with apple pies.

1 person found this helpful

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The World of Witness and Victim

The complexity of crime and abuse extends well beyond the direct victim of the atrocity and the perpetrator. This psychological and actual reality is vividly elaborated in this gripping tale. Well-told
and skillfully narrated, the surprising conclusion is nonetheless logical and heart-wrenching. A great read with pentrating insights into the subtle class layering of contemporary Japanese society.

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Haunting and Compelling

Minato does it again with Penance. Her ability to go between the different characters and tell how they have been impacted by a single event shows her ability to handle the head-space of these distinct and different voices easily. While not as gut wrenching or with the same flare as her first piece, Confessions, Penance is an excellent examination of how different people process a single event (a murder) and what it is like to be linked by such an event. This is not a "who done it" sort of mystery, as it spends more time focusing on how the characters process the murder rather than the investigation. If you are a fan of psychological stories, I highly recommend it to you.

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Would make outstanding movie

Keeps you enthralled to the last few minutes. This is one of her best to date. Intricate and absorbing. Do not miss

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Intriguing Book!

I would usually not read a book like this, but it came recommended to me, so I wanted to give it a try. I was immediately pulled into this fascinating story after listening to only a few pages. Five 10 year old girls venture out for an afternoon of play at the school grounds when a murder of one of the girls occurs. So many twists and turns to this intriguing plot, which deeply affects the remaining four girl's lives for the next fifteen years. The story is very well written. The narrator really brings the story to life. Her narrative of each character's journey in coping with this unsolved murder is compelling.