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The Lake Hardcover – May 3 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (May 3 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633778
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633770
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 15.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #465,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 30 2011
Format: Hardcover
Banana Yoshimoto's "The Lake" is an engrossing, exhilarating, look at a love affair between two misfits, Chihiro and Nakajima, on the verge of adulthood. Elegantly translated by her long-time translator Michael Emmerich, Yoshimoto weaves a most beguiling tale via her descriptively sparse prose. Moving to Tokyo soon after her mother's death, Chihiro spots one day from her apartment window, an odd young man staring out of his apartment window, Yoshimoto, with whom she develops both an intellectual and physical attraction. She'll realize that he's the victim of some unusual psychological trauma sometime in the youth. When he invites her to visit two friends who live alone by themselves beside a lake shrouded by trees, she concludes eventually that Nakajima and his rural friends may have belong to some bizarre religious cult she's heard of. This terse jewel of a novel offers one of the most fascinating love affairs I have read in fiction; Yoshimoto is definitely one of Japan's greatest living writers, having created in this novel, two characters that are as memorable as any I have read in Haruki Murakami's novels.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 66 reviews
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
So Glad She's Back April 3 2011
By Timothy Hallinan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Banana Yoshimoto is unique. I don't know of any other writer who explores the spaces in the human heart with such delicacy and accuracy. This book, which was published in Japan in 2005, follows the love affair of Chihiro, a young girl whose mother's death both freed her from the censorious small town in which she grew up and also cast her adrift, rootless, in Tokyo; and Nakajima, a very secretive and tightly wound young man who endured something terrible as a child. Both of them are damaged; both of them are needy but in many ways unwilling to risk opening up to anyone. Chihiro, an artist, is hired to paint a mural on the wall of an elementary school that is in danger of being torn down, and as Nakajima's story unfolds, Chihiro translates elements of it into art, in the lighthearted form of monkeys painted especially for children's eyes. I don't know of another writer in the world who would come up with such pitch-perfect alchemy, not only bringing fear out of the shadows but painting it in primary colors in bright daylight. From KITCHEN on, I've devoured every book Banana Yoshimoto has written, and this is no exception. My only complaint is that we had to wait six years to read THE LAKE in English.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A quiet quirky love story March 28 2011
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The lovers in this story are walking on eggshells towards a fragile intimacy.

Chihiro is the illegitimate daughter of the flashy Mama-san of a club and a conventional businessman. Nearing thirty, she's become a fairly successful painter of murals.

Nakajima is a brilliant graduate student doing genetic research at a prestigious university. He's definitely odd. Something terrible happened in his past.

Their Tokyo apartments face each other diagonally across a street. They begin by nodding to each other and progress to reading greetings on each other's lips. Eventually they make contact, and this is the beginning of a cautious, complex coupling of psyches.

Despite the gentle tenor of Yoshimoto's prose, there are some shocking revelations in store for the reader.

Banana Yoshimoto has a nice unpretentious way of describing life's cruel twists and turns. She tosses off bits of wisdom that, if she were a mountain ascetic, would cause her to be revered. It's no wonder she's engendered Banana-mania among millions of fans around the world.

The Lake has a small cast of characters, but among them is one of the oddest and most poignant psychics I've ever encountered in literature.

It's easy to get so relaxed and pleasantly pensive reading Banana Yoshimoto that you miss her artistry. She manages to be utterly non-threatening, even comforting, while dealing with heavy subjects like alienation, loss and death. She offers a very contemporary take on the traditional Japanese theme of ephemeral existence.

I loved everything about The Lake - the style, the story, the ambience and the offbeat characters. I devoured it in a day.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Great Imaginations Review of The Lake July 2 2011
By K_Malinczak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Alright..this is another review I have been dreading, truthfully because I don't have a lot to say. And it's hard, because I hate when that happens. I feel like I'm doing the author a disservice. But here's the thing. This was a fairly short novel and to me it read more like a short story. Which would have been fine if I had been prepared for that going in. But I wasn't. This also the first Yoshimoto I have ever read and I did like it, but not as much as I thought I would. I'm going to try and articulate why.

I like a certain amount of detail in my reading and I felt like that was lacking in The Lake. There were hardly any place descriptions and it was very hard to picture exactly what was going on. I know that doesn't matter to some people, but it matters to me.

I also felt that there was an emotional disconnect. I didn't particularly care what happened to the characters, especially Nikajima, who I think the author intended me to have a lot of sympathy for. I just felt a complete lack of emotion for anything that was going on, and I found that to be a shame because the story had a great deal of potential.

The idea of the plot and the summary of the story really drew me in and was what initially made me want to read the book. It sounded a bit scary and mysterious. Plus the cover is absolutely mesmerizing. I wish it had been as good as i thought it was going to be.

The reason why I gave it three stars? I really enjoyed the writing style. I just wish it had been a little more detailed. She really does write beautifully. It's a very simple writing style, but manages to be quite poetic. And like I said, I really loved the plotline. I just feel the story would have been so much more if I felt emotionally invested in the characters, even if it was just a little bit.

I am very interested in reading another Banana Yoshimoto though, and I have added a few of her books to my TBR list. Maybe I will have better luck with another book. I hope so, because I really appreciate what she was trying to do here.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Dive into The Lake April 11 2011
By Steven James - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Imagine two birds sitting on the edge of their nest. One has a broken wing. The other, two broken wings. Now imagine these birds getting ready to take flight. What is going through your mind? Hope? Fear? Desperation? Anxiety? Probably all of these things, but I would imagine primarily Hope. Those are exactly the feelings I experienced while reading THE LAKE.

The story of two broken almost-thirty somethings, one more so than the other, in the big city of modern-day Tokyo takes us on a quiet thrill ride that doesn't let up until the final page. Not a ton actually happens in this interesting little book, but the characters are so finely drawn that it almost doesn't matter. You will find yourself rooting for them both to succeed and find what they are missing in life while the whole time it is right there in front of them.

I thought this was a great book. I liked the author's use of simple, profound phrasing and her ability to say a lot without saying much. What I didn't like was the description on the back of the book which is, in essence, a HUGE spoiler. The whole time we are trying to figure out why Nakajima is so averse to opening himself to others. Yet the description on the back jacket gives the answer before one even can draw his or her own conclusions or make assumptions. Had I not already known the answer I probably would have come up with something completely different and then been shocked at the outcome. This would have been a much more fitting way to market THE LAKE.

That said, this was a book that will appeal to many different people for a vast variety of reasons. I finished this book in two sittings, which is unheard of for me...a notoriously slow reader. That probably says quite a bit about this book on its own. I highly recommend Yoshimoto's latest book. I now plan to go and seek out her earlier novels. Plus, anyone with the name "Banana" is okay in my eyes. 4 solid stars.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A quiet, beautiful story from Austen's Japanese soulmate April 28 2011
By Storylover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
OK, so this may be the first comparison of Yoshimoto to Austen, but hear me out. Both understood the human heart in a deep and lovely way, both were capable of portraying the most painful emotional turmoil in the lives of people who could otherwise have been ordinary. Both write beautifully, lyrically. Both have strong heroines who get into your heart and won't leave your memroy. No, Banana does not write like Jane Austen, but yes, I think that they are both thoughtful, beautiful writers who write from and about the storms in the soul.

This is a lovely book. Chihiro finds herself floating along, empty after her mother's death, finding her way in a city of lost souls. She is searching for connection, and finds it in her art, and in the heart of a troubled young man. If you have never read Kitchen, then please, buy that book. It is perfect. I'm not sure that Banana will ever reach that level of heartrending simplicity again, but Lake comes awfully close. Beautiful prose in a masterful translation by a genuinely wondrous authoress. I love Banana, I love the Lake. Welcome it into your heart.

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