Banana Yoshimoto was born in 1964. Her bestselling first book, Kitchen, has sold millions of copies worldwide. It was followed by N.P., a novel, and Lizard, her first collection of short stories. Her books have won numerous prizes in her native Japan and
The simplicity of this elliptical novel's form and expression belies its emotional depth.
There's almost an artistic sleight of hand in the latest from Yoshimoto (Hardboiled & Hard Luck, 2005, etc.), a novel in which nothing much seems to happen yet everything changes. Read full book review >
Popular Japanese writer Yoshimoto (Lizard, 1994, etc.) abandons her usual edgy hip minimalism for a maudlin and pretentious take on death and the meaning of life as she tells the story of a young woman's search for redemption. The sorrows just keep piling up for our poor twentysomething narrator, Saku-chan. Read full book review >
Six short stories from Japan's popular literary star (N.P., 1994, etc.) offer pallid bromides, blending postmodern cool with superficial explorations of ``time, healing, karma, and fate.'' Products of an affluent society that has embraced the West but not forgotten its fundamental traditions, the characters are uncertain of the future, skeptical of materialism, yearning to end the anomie and existential pain they feel. Read full book review >
Japan's leading pop novelist follows her successful debut (Kitchen, 1993) with an ambitious novel of darker themes—incest, suicide, and the supernatural—that recalls more classic Japanese fiction. The narrator, a twentysomething translator named Kazami, was once the lover of the famous translator Shoji, who committed suicide shortly after completing his translation of the 98th story by the author of NP—the title of the volume of 97 short stories written by a middle-aged Japanese writer, Sarao Takase, who also committed suicide shortly after writing the 98th story. Read full book review >
Young writer Yoshimoto's first full-length fiction to appear in the US—an excerpt of which appeared in New Japanese Voices (1991; ed. by Helen Mitsios)—explores love and loss with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. The source of what has been described as ``Bananamania'' in her native Japan, Yoshimoto combines traditional sensitivity to nuance and setting with a youthful sense of belonging to a wider, less specifically Japanese world—characters jog, eat Kentucky Fried chicken, and listen to American music: a combination that, apparently, made this novel—in reality two separate stories united by a theme of loss and survival—an instant success among younger Japanese. Read full book review >