books


Review – Kitchen
by Banana Yoshimoto

Banana Yoshimoto pondering the phlosphical meaning of a sundae, perhaps.

Banana Yoshimoto pondering the phlosphical meaning of a sundae, perhaps.

When it was first published in the 80s, Banana Yoshimoto’s first novel quickly flew to the best seller list and earned the young writer many awards. Critics said she captured the voice of young Japan. A few years later she’s been translated — and translated well — into English. I had never heard of her until I arrived in Japan. I am so happy her writing has become a part o my life. Even today, a quarter century later, her writing remains fresh and relevant.

The stories is simple, yet deeply complex and emotional. In Kitchen‘s two slim and graceful novellas Yoshimoto tackles love, and loss, death, grief; and the ever prickly topics of sexuality and gender identity. Through the darkest of times, Yoshimoto’s voice rings through with optimism and strength. Sometimes all you need is a good bowl of katsudon to bring you back down to earth.

(Canadian Edition, 2006)

Will Fugu-san Fergussons travelogue

Will "Fugu-san" Ferguson's travelogue

In the midst of packing and getting my Japanese work permit in order, I managed to fit in some good procrastination time at the bookstore. I originally went looking for Kate Williamson’s A Year in Japan, (they didn’t have it) but was happy to leave instead with a copy of Will Ferguson’s travelogue, Hitching Rides with Buddha—an enthusiastic recommendation from a clerk who had spent three years in Japan through on the JET program. (more…)