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Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, bereavement, kitchens, love and tragedy in contemporary Japan.
Banana Yoshimoto was born in 1964. She is the author of Kitchen, N.P., Lizard, Amrita, Asleep and Goodbye Tsugumi. Her writing has won numerous prizes around the world.
In this translation of a best-selling novel first published in Japan in 1987, the young narrator, Mikage, moves into the apartment of a friend whose mother is murdered early in the tale. What seems like a coming-of-age melodrama quickly evolves into a deeply moving tale filled with unique characters and themes. Along the way, readers get a taste of contemporary Japan, with its mesh of popular American food and culture. Mikage addresses the role of death, loneliness, and personal as well as sexual identity through a set of striking circumstances and personal remembrances. ``Moonlight Shadows,'' a novella included here, is a more haunting tale of loss and acceptance. In her simple and captive style, Yoshimoto confirms that art is perhaps the best ambassador among nations. Recommended for all fiction collections.-- David A. Berona, Westbrook Coll. Lib., Portland, Me.