Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto is a short novel that consists of three stories: Night and Night's Travelers, Love Songs, and Asleep. All three stories are written in first person, which I really started to enjoy reading after reading some of Yoshimoto's other novels. Asleep is a story about the three "...young women bewitched into a spiritual sleep." If you intend to start reading Yoshimoto's works, then I recommend that you start by reading Kitchen, which I have found to be her best work so far from what I have read.
Night and Night's Travelers was not such a great story, but it was interesting to read. It is about Shibami, the protagonist, who is a girl in her twenties. Her older brother, Yoshihiro, died a year ago. There is Sarah, who has blue eyes and blonde hair. Sarah came to study in Japan from Boston and dated Yoshihiro high school. There is their cousin Mari, who is twenty-five years old and is usually found sleeping or sleepwalking like she's in a dream. This story is mainly about Shibami observing Mari and telling about her brother.
Love Songs was an okay story that was extremely short. Fumi, the protagonist, used to be in a relationship with an attractive man, while he was in a relationship with Haru. A while later Fumi starts drinking and having pleasant dreams, full of nostalgia, relaxing, a nice smell, and a faint voice singing a sweet melody. Haru is haunting her, bringing her pleasant dreams; what is Fumi to do? There is Mizuo, Fumi's boyfriend who owns a household goods store.
Asleep was better than the previous two stories, since it was more interesting and longer. The protagonist is Terako who has been seeing Mr. Iwanetga for one and a half years. Mr. Iwanetga's wife is in a coma and he is six years older than Terako. Terako has been sleeping a lot; that's all she does in her free time and she always feels tired. In Asleep, Terako thinks a lot about her dead friend Shiori, who had an unusual job.
The three stories are full of memories and the characters learn to move on from their sleeping problems. I noticed that Banana Yoshimoto enjoys writing about people coping with the loss of loved ones or those close to them. She has written about this topic in her other two novels that I have read: Kitchen, and Hardboiled and Hard Luck.