The Lake Hardcover – May 3 2011
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Praise for The Lake
"[The Lake] attests to the power of emotional intimacy to help even the most 'ridiculously fragile people' overcome trauma and grief."
—Hirsh Sawhney, The New York Times Book Review
"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, a novel in which nothing much seems to happen yet everything changes."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Yoshimoto's marvelously light touch is perfectly captured by Emmerich's pristine translation."
"Yoshimoto aficionados who have savored any of the dozen-plus novels she’s written over the last three decades since she became a near-instant pop literary phenomenon with Kitchen will recognize her signature crisp, clipped style (thanks to exacting translator Emmerich’s constancy) and revel in her latest cast of quirky characters. Newbies with a penchant for Haruki Murakami’s mind-bending protagonists or Yoko Tawada’s sparse precision will do well to begin their so-called Bananamania with this beguiling title."
"Reading [The Lake], you realize just how conventional most love stories are."
—New York Times
"The Lake demonstrates Yoshimoto's deepening talent, and her craft for quietly revealing an enveloping and haunting world."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Yoshimoto is in peak form in this mesmerizing and suspenseful drama of the perils of brainwashing, from class bias to intrusive advertising to an infamous cult. Social conventions, memories and dreams, and the creative process are all explored with exquisite insight in Yoshimoto’s beautifully mystical and hopeful novel."
"Yoshimoto’s simplicity — both in prose and narrative — speaks to a mastery of form....The Lake will haunt you."
Praise for Banana Yoshimoto
“A sure and lyrical writer . . . Yoshimoto transforms the trite into the essential.”
—The New Yorker
“Ms. Yoshimoto has an effortless ability to penetrate her characters’ hearts.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Banana Yoshimoto is a master storyteller. . . . The sensuality is subtle, masked, and extraordinarily powerful. The language is deceptively simple.”
“There is no such thing as a stock character in Yoshimoto’s fiction. She writes utterly without pretense.”
—The Washington Post
“The disturbing, ironic, relentless clarity of her voice casts a spell. . . .”
—The Denver Post
“Her achievements are already legend.”
—The Boston Globe
About the Author
Banana Yoshimoto wrote her first novel, Kitchen, while working as a waitress at a golf-course restaurant. It sold millions of copies worldwide, and led to a phenomenon dubbed by Western journalists as “Banana-mania.” Yoshimoto has gone on to be one of the biggest-selling and most distinguished writers in Japanese history, winning numerous awards for her work. The Lake is her thirteenth book of fiction.
Michael Emmerich has translated numerous books by Banana Yoshimoto, and is also known for his translations of Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.