Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (吉本ばなな), a Japanese author, was written in 1988 and translated to English first in 1993. Kitchen and other Banana Yoshimoto books are a favourite standbye of book clubs, but should be labelled with a clear warning.
Only 152 pages long, Kitchen is full of choppy prose from poor translation by Backus, who at times removes sentences, and other times, replaces Japanese with cliche Americanisms. Reading キッチン in Japanese is certain to be an improved experience.
Kitchen is two short novellas combined together, including a second story Moonlight Shadow. Banana Yoshimoto’s minimalist style is present throughout. In both stories, female protagonists try to deal with loss and death, using different mechanisms. Cooking and food, in the former, and mystical reunion and closure in the second.
I preferred Moonlight Shadow, and would rate it a 2.5/5 due to the light-touch themes of magical realism; Kitchen, on the other hand is only worth a 1/5. It feels pieced together to force a point, almost as a student exercise: write a story about death, use kitchen/food as a coping mechanism, and throw in some strange family dynamics to make it seems strange. In the end, Kitchen fails to even be a solid narrative around cooking, food, or the kitchen.
You can check out the New York Times review, titled “Hold the Tofu”. If you enjoyed Banana Yoshimoto, you may also find a deeper narrative and similar style/themes in Haruki Murakami’s work.
|This entry was posted on Sunday, December 4th, 2011 at 7:47 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.|