Kitchen- Banana Yoshimoto   Leave a comment

 

This is a book from the list, 1001 books to read before you die, which I am slowly working through. It is short and easy to read, but very accurately describes grief and how we can struggle through it. I am still experiencing grief over my young daughter who died only 3 1/2 years ago and this authors writing spoke to me more than any another I have come across on the same subject.

Banana is the pen name of Japanese writer, Mahoko Yoshimoto. She chose the name banana, as she loved Banana flowers and because she felt it was androgynous.

Kitchen was her very first work published. The two theme which frequently appear in her writing, both present in this work, are the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan and the way in which terrible experiences shape a person’s life.

In Kitchen, Mikage Sakurai struggles with grief over the death of her grandmother. She comes to know Yuichi, a young flower delivery boy, who knew her grandmother. Mikage ends up moving in to live with Yuichi and his transgender mother, Eriko.

Once there, she gradually heals, developing her love of cooking against a background of unconditional acceptance. She ends up becoming an assistant to a tv chef, with her own apartment and an independent life.

After learning that Eriko has been killed, she returns to hep Yuichi deal with his grief and during this time their own love for each other develops.

I loved this book. The story is simple, but the characters were alive to me and the issues they were all dealing with were gently told, yet it never overwhelmed me with information. It is a short story, but so much is contained within. The character is brilliant, a strong transgender woman, she jumps off the page to the reader.

Although Yoshimoto is dealing much with grief, and is very gentle and sensitive, there is no allowance for dwelling in self pity, the clear instruction is to get over these things, to be strong.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but particularly if you feel bogged down in your issues. A 5 star read.

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