Tag: Banana Yoshimoto

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

Posted December 8, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

The Lake by Banana YoshimotoTitle: The Lake (Goodreads)
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Translator: Michael Emmerich
Published: Melville House, 2005
Pages: 188
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

After the death of her mother, Chihiro moved to Tokyo in an attempt to run away from her grief and start a new life. Tokyo also offered the opportunity to try and kick start her dream career as a graphic artist. It was here, she met and befriended Nakajima, and their friendship quickly blossomed into a relationship. The Lake is a beautiful and mysterious novel about a blossoming relationship and the baggage that comes with it.

I have often heard great things about the writing of Banana Yoshimoto and one day I just thought it was time to find out for myself. I checked my local library and eventually decided to start with The Lake. I decided to read this one for multiple reasons and I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. The best way to describe reading this book is like floating on a lake. It was relaxing and I felt myself drifting through the book. Soon I realised I drifted so far out and into a dangerous situation.

I will not go into the plot in detail; experiencing this novel without any knowledge is highly recommended. Yoshimoto knows how to write a wonderful story that sweeps you away, but not only that, her characters have so much depth to them. The baggage brought into the relationship becomes a prime focus of the psychological elements within The Lake.

While Chihiro was dealing with grief, Nakajima was dealing with something more complex and damaging. What I liked about this novel is the way Nakajima sometimes wanted to try to rise above his issues and other times it was leading him into depression. I think Banana Yoshimoto created a very real depiction of depression, exploring the ups and downs flawlessly.

After one Banana Yoshimoto novel, I can say I am a fan and want to read everything she has written. Well, everything translated from Japanese into English (The Lake being translated by Michael Emmerich).  I have heard many people rave about Kitchen and it might be the next Yoshimoto novel I pick up; it will depend on my library. Do yourself a favour; pick up a Banana Yoshimoto novel, and experience her writing for yourself.

In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami

Posted October 4, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror / 2 Comments

In the Miso Soup by Ryū MurakamiTitle: In the Miso Soup (Goodreads)
Author: Ryū Murakami
Translator: Ralph McCarthy
Published: Kodansha International, 1997
Pages: 180
Genres: Horror
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Kenji is a tour guide of the night, normally taking Americans to the sex clubs within Tokyo. Frank, an overweight business man that appears to have only one thing on his mind wishes to take advantage of Kenji’s knowledge of the sex industry, hires him to guide him for three days. However Frank’s strange behaviour begins to make Kenji suspicious and he quickly suspects that his client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorising Tokyo. In the Miso Soup is a fast paced, philosophical piece of translated fiction by the Murakami that does not often get talked about, Ryū Murakami.

Translated by Ralph McCarthy, this Japanese novel is a short punchy novel that really explores culture clash in a really interesting way. The attitudes towards sex between the Japanese and Americans are what really stands out to me while reading In the Miso Soup. The whole novel plays around with the cultural differences in an interesting way, exploring attitudes, personalities and even philosophical views. I enjoyed Ryū Murakami’s approach to these themes within In the Miso Soup, I think it was a unique take on East meets West, and I do not think I have seen the approach before.

One thing I like about Japanese fiction is the writing style, it is almost like a slow burn but novels like this still manage to build tension. I have read a few Japanese novels that explore really dark themes in this way; Revenge by Yōko Ogawa comes to mind. Be aware when reading In the Miso Soup, Ryū Murakami does not hold back and it can get descriptive in its depictions of sex and violence.

I really enjoyed reading Ryū Murakami’s In the Miso Soup and am eager to read more of his novels; in particular Coin Locker Babies and Audition. I am fascinated by the philosophical and psychological look into the darker side of humanity that seems to be a common theme within Japanese literature. Other novelists I am interested in checking out include Natsuo Kirino, Banana Yoshimoto and Kenzaburō Ōe. This does not include the authors I have already read, like Haruki Murakami, Yōko Ogawa and now Ryū Murakami. In the Miso Soup is a short novel but it packs a huge punch, not for the faint hearted but well worth reading. I have also done a video review of this book, if you are interested in checking that out.