I thoroughly enjoyed reading Banana Yoshimoto‘s novella Kitchen. From start to finish I was captivted by her poetic and effortlessly ‘smooth as jazz’ prose (which reminded me in some ways of Haruki Murakami’s, South of the Border, West of the Sun). While I found both tales (Kitchen and Moonlight Shadows) comprising the novella entertaining, the eponymous story (Kitchen) was my overwhelming favorite. Kitchen is a snapshot of the life of Mikage, a young Japanese woman aspiring to be a chef, who in her struggle to cope with the recent loss her last living relative (her grandmother), is befriended by a young man, Yuichi Tanabe and his ‘mother,’ Eriko. However, before long a tragedy strikes which turns their three lives upside down. Yet through it all, Mikage finds a way to overcome her sorrow and to heal, through sharing the pleasure she derives from cooking and eating delicious food. As a self-professed ‘foodie’ I felt an immediate connection to Mikage and her love of good food. Yoshimoto does a brilliant job of capturing the inexorable passion of the protagonist for all things connected to eating, from the kitchen to cooking utensils, and even to the way the main characters devour their food. The second story, Moonlight Shadows, is equally well written as the first. Like Kitchen, it is an enthralling short story about a twenty-something Japanese woman coping with the tragic loss of a loved one; in this case, her childhood sweetheart and first boyfriend. However, in Moonlight Shadows, Yosimoto employs magical fantasy as a key element of the story. For me personally, this made it less appealing as I could not relate to this tale because certain aspects of the story were beyond belief. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Kitchen to anyone looking for a refreshing, easy flowing read.
Have you read Kitchen or another of Banana Yoshimoto’s books? Which story in Kitchen was your favorite? What did you enjoy the most about her writing? Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below. Thanks as always for stopping by! Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.