Two stories, "Kitchen" and "Moonlight Shadow," told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young Japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy. Reprint. NYT.
The second story is called "Moonlight Shadow." Satsuki has lost a boyfriend in a car crash which also claimed the life of his younger brother's girlfriend. One day she meets a mysterious woman with a secret she wants to share. This story has a slight element of fantasy to it, a touching piece of magical realism.
The author has a deceptively simple style of writing which enables her to deal with weighty issues without them feeling oppressive. These works are deeply affecting, but they are poetic rather than doom-laden. I preferred the second story, which is tighter and has a definite resolution, whereas the first is more of a slice of life and though longer, felt a little incomplete. As always, I enjoyed the look at Japanese daily life.
Banana Yoshimoto is, I think, the only one of today's writers capable of capturing perfectly the exact moment when we must leave the carefree innocence of childhood behind and face the fact that all of our dreams aren't going to come true, that all of our wishes aren't going to be fulfilled and that life hits sour notes just as often as it hits ones that are sweet.
The protagonist of KITCHEN is Mikage Sakurai, a woman just entering adulthood who, after the death of her grandmother, finds herself all alone in the world. Feeling bereft and adrift, Mikage, who loves kitchens-any kitchen-begins sleeping beside her refrigerator for comfort.
When her college chum, a charming young man named Yuichi Tanabe becomes concerned about Mikage and her emotional state, he invites her to move into the apartment he shares with his mother, Eriko.
Mikage gladly accepts Yuichi's invitation and, partly to assuage her grief and partly to repay Yuichi and Eriko for their kindness, Mikage begins preparing elaborate dinners for the three of them.
As the friendship between Mikage and Yuichi deepens, Yuichi suffers a loss of his own, a loss that only brings him closer to Mikage. Mikage, meanwhile, has "found" her calling in the kitchen, in the preparation of food.
Although Banana Yoshimoto is the grand master at depicting the first loss of childhood innocence, she has many other talents as well. For example, her books contain wry and subtle humor.Read more ›