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Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Kitchen (original 1988; edition 1994)

by Banana Yoshimoto

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,124741,801 (3.69)145
Authors:Banana Yoshimoto
Info:Washington Square Press (1994), Paperback, 152 pages
Collections:Read, Read but unowned
Tags:Japanese, fiction, 1001 books, Tokyo, Japan, novellas, death, loss, grief, magical realism, cooking, 20th century, 1980s

Work details

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (1988)


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English (69)  Spanish (3)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
There are many days when all the awful things that happen make you sick at heart, when the path before you is so steep you can’t bear to look. Not even love can rescue a person from that. (p. 42)
Kitchen is a delightful little collection of stories (two of them, to be exact, “Kitchen” and “Moonlight Shadow”) that deals with death and overcoming the overwhelming sense of loss and despair that follow. Maybe “delightful” is the wrong word to be using, but it’s surprisingly not that far off.

The two stories collected here are about women grieving after the death of a loved one--certainly a depressing subject matter but also one that is handled gracefully by Yoshimoto, who effortlessly shifts the stories to a small place of hope before ending with such a sense of optimism that one has to marvel at the craft displayed here. I wondered at how strange this felt to me, that such a dark exploration of death could somehow bring me happiness. But then I realized, why should this feel strange? Why are there not more stories that gives a person this sense of hope? I don’t know the answer to that one, but I feel that the way this subject matter is treated may be one of the reasons Kitchen is worth reading.

At first I was thrown off guard because both of our protagonists sounded like such valley girls (“Bad as it sounds, it was like I was possessed. His attitude was so totally 'cool,' though, I felt I could trust him.”), but it’s not long before Banana Yoshimoto proves herself as a deft writer who is capable of exploring the despair and hope felt in these stories. Worth a read, especially since it’s so short.

In this world there is no place for sadness. Not one. (p. 23)
( )
  sighedtosleep | Sep 1, 2014 |
​Not a masterpiece. But​​ ​then WHY did it touch me so?...Death and loss motif throughout the two novellas of the tiny paperback.​ ​Yet​​ ​somehow they don't read as something depressing. The writing style has so much clarity and ​open​ ​frankness​ in it - the sentences are like crystal clear drops of cool water (if I dare to venture into how it felt to read it​...​).​ This book will stay in my memory, somehow I am sure of it.​ ( )
1 vote Clara53 | Jul 17, 2014 |
sad, happy, easy read ( )
  rosies | Jun 15, 2014 |
In Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto portrays everyday life and love in a contemporary Japanese setting. The two short stories in this novella are different but at the same time, demonstrate common themes in Yoshimoto's writings.

The first one, the eponymous "Kitchen", the protagonist Mikage Sakurai struggles to overcome the death of her grandmother while drawing close to Yuichi and his transgendered mother. "Kitchen" explores the discovery of food and love against an ever-present background of tragedy.

In the second story, "Moonlight Shadow", a young woman, Satsuki, comes to terms with the death of her boyfriend, Hitoshi, in a car accident and her friendship with her boyfriend's brother. It is in this story particularly that Yoshimoto revisits the themes of grief, loss, and hope present in her other works, though this one has a more surrealist air.

Both stories are good examples of Yoshimoto's writing and the themes she explores, and portray love and grief in contemporary Japan well. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
loved it. both stories were beautiful. the second one was so sad and so delicate. thoroughly enjoyed them. ( )
1 vote lloyd1175 | Mar 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
For English-language readers, the appeal of "Kitchen" lies in its portrayal of the lives of young Japanese.
Banana Yoshimoto won immediate fame in Japan with the publication of this pair of novellas about two bold and guileless women grappling with emotional loss.
Yoshimoto's oriental concision is sometimes idiosyncratic and haiku-like ..., but it's a quality of poignant, dignified resilience that makes this little work worthwhile...

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Banana Yoshimotoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amitrano, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Backus, MeganTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaneshiro-Jager, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlecht, Wolfgang E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The place I like best in this world is the kitchen. (Kitchen)
Wherever he went, Hitoshi always had a little bell with him, attached to the case he kept his bus pass in. (Moonlight Shadow)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671880187, Paperback)

Two stories, "Kitchen" and "Moonlight Shadow," told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young Japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy. Reprint. NYT.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Two stories, "Kitchen" and "Moonlight Shadow," told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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