The acclaimed debut of Japan’s “master storyteller” (Chicago Tribune).
With the publication of Kitchen, the dazzling English-language debut that is still her best-loved book, the literary world realized that Banana Yoshimoto was a young writer of enduring talent whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of contemporary Japanese literature. Kitchen is an enchantingly original book that juxtaposes two tales about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, the heroine, is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, Mikage is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who is really his cross-dressing father) Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale with the kitchen and the comforts of home at its heart.
In a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, Kitchen and its companion story, Moonlight Shadow, are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a very special writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul.
“Lucid, earnest and disarming . . . [It] seizes hold of the reader’s sympathy and refuses to let go.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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Two stories of love, sadness, struggle, and triumph
“Kitchen” is a collection of two stories by Banana Yoshimoto: “Kitchen”, written in two parts, and a shorter novella titled “Moonlight Shadow”. These two stories speak of love (both familial and romantic), loss, and coming to terms with a life that has become seemingly smaller. Ms Yoshimoto writes evocatively of the despair and sorrow that beset us during such times, but also inspiringly of the courage needed to understand, accept and grow from these age-old feelings.
Her protagonists in each story are young women who are struck by great tragedy early in their lives and struggle to find meaning and comfort amidst the chaos, but they ultimately prove themselves to be heroines - saving not only themselves but those around them from the grasp of a timeless darkness that threatens in times of sadness.
Written thirty years ago when Ms Yoshimoto was only 24 years old, “Kitchen” reflects a maturity of expression and emotion that permeates its entirety. Ms Yoshimoto’s first work promises to speak to all readers, providing a guiding beacon of hope for finding one’s way amidst the soaring highs and crushing lows of human existence. This reader expresses his gratitude at being able to share in the love, sadness, struggles and triumphs of Banana Yoshimoto’s characters, and to have become a part of her masterful tapestry that hangs in her Kitchen, beneath the Moonlight’s Shadow.