Moshi Moshi: Banana Yoshimoto

My first Banana Yoshimoto book, so I walked into this one with very few expectations. I assumed there would be romance and the story of women's lives, which there was, but besides that, this was all a surprise to me.

So, we have a Yoshie, a young woman in Tokyo, whose father has just died/been killed/committed suicide, in a strange lover's tryst gone wrong. Her mother, unable to handle the ghosts of the old apartment, pushes her way to live with her daughter, and they battle their way through their pain, using the atmosphere of the new neighborhood, along with food and new friends to help.

  I felt slight hints of Murakami in Yoshimoto's writing. There seemed to be heavy meaning in setting, like going to a new location may be a journey into the character's mind. However, here it is much more subtle, which could have been great, but I think it fell short of creating a universe that made any real sense that could be pulled apart and read into more.

  Along with that, I wasn't a fan of the over-explanation used here. The main character would often think something out, and then say what she had been thinking. It felt repetitive, meaningless, and as if the writer didn't trust her readers to make any inferences on their own.

   So, is it so possible that this book is so gendered that it's beyond me? Do you need to know what it is to be a woman to have this fall into place? Maybe. However, I have always felt that a good book allows everyone to understand the life of the characters presented. That is the job of the book, to teach us, and allow us to feel things and see things that we never could. Here, I didn't ever understand the characters motives.

  On the positive side, this book created a true empathy within me as I read it. I couldn't imagine how to handle the mother, what happened to the father, and everything else, but I didn't feel any satisfaction with the ending. The character told me things were better, which contradicted everything I was reading.

Last, the translation had numerous English mistakes and irregularities, very odd for a major writer, and I wonder if a more practiced translator could have made this a better book. For this reason, and the positives that I did see in the book, I will likely read Kitchen in the near future and give Banana a fair shake.

Pick up a copy;

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