Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
With the publication of Kitchen, the dazzling English-language debut that is still her best-loved book, the literary world realized that Banana Yoshimoto was a young writer of enduring talent whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of contemporary Japanese literature. Kitchen is an enchantingly original book that juxtaposes two tales about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, the heroine, is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, Mikage is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who is really his cross-dressing father) Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale with the kitchen and the comforts of home at its heart.
In a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, Kitchen and its companion story, Moonlight Shadow, are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a very special writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul.
“Lucid, earnest and disarming . . . [It] seizes hold of the reader’s sympathy and refuses to let go.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times