May 2019 Humble Beginnings reading group selection
— From Humble Beginnings
With the publication of Kitchen,
the dazzling English-language debut that is still her best-loved book, the literary world realized that Yoshimoto was a young writer of enduring talent whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of contemporary Japanese literature. Kitchen
is an enchantingly original book that juxtaposes two tales about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, the heroine, is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, Mikage is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who is really his cross-dressing father) Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale with the kitchen and the comforts of home at its heart.
In a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, "Kitchen" and its companion story, "Moonlight Shadow," are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a very special writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul.
Ms. Yoshimoto’s writing is lucid, earnest and disarming . . . [It] seizes hold of the reader’s sympathy and refuses to let go.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Banana Yoshimoto is a master storyteller. . . . The sensuality is subtle, masked, and extraordinarily powerful. The language is deceptively simple.” Chicago Tribune
Yoshimoto shouldn’t be shy about basking in her celebrity. Her achievements are already legend.”The Boston Globe
A meditation on the transience of beauty and loveMelancholy and lovely.” The Washington Post Book World