Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lake by Banana Yoshimoto よしもと ばなな Win A Copy

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto (2005, 188 pages, trans. by Michael Emmerich, 2011)

My New Favorite Banana Yoshimoto Novel
よしもと ばなな

The Reading Life Japanese Literature Project

Most everyone says Kitchen is their  favorite Banana Yoshimoto (1964, Japan) novel.   Kitchen, her first novel, sold millions of copies and propelled her to super star status.   I like Kitchen a lot but my favorite of her work has always been the wonderful Goodbye Tsugumi.   I totally loved the last twenty pages of Goodbye Tsugumi and I wished it could have been 1000 pages longer!.   I hate to admit this somehow, but I think The Lake might now be my favorite Yoshimoto read (out of six so far.)    The deep gentle wisdom of Yoshimoto is wonderfully wrought for us in The Lake.

The central character in The Lake, as is very normal for Yoshimoto, is a young woman struggling with her feelings about the death of someone very close to her.   A typical Yoshimoto persona is caught between the world of adulthood and the freedom from responsibility many have in their late teenage years.

Chihiro recently lost her mother, who owned a bar for men which featured table dances and such by partially clothed women.   Chihiro spent a lot of time in the bar growing up.    She never participated in any of the things that went on in the corners  of the bar but she knew about them.  We sense Chihiro feels a little ashamed of her mother's past.    Her parents separated years ago and she has an uneven relationship with her father.   Chihiro by profession is a mural painter.   She is pretty successful and has commissions all over Japan.   Yoshimoto does a wonderful job in letting us see how Chihiro deals with the feelings her mother's death creates for her.

Chihiro meets and develops a relationship with a young man,  Nakajima.    Chihiro senses a deep sadness kept hidden by him.    The longer she knows him the more she becomes obsessed with trying to understand what could  have caused this sadness.  I for sure was taken up in this central mystery of  The Lake and I very much wanted to understand it.

The mystery unravels beautifully when the couple visit two of Nakajima's old friends who live a very simple isolated life in a cabin by a lake.   This section of the novel is just perfectly told.    The atmosphere is deeply spiritual.

I do not want to tell more of the plot of this novel.   The pace is fast and there is always something happening to keep us totally interested in the action.   The characters are  made to come to life for us in a subtle highly intelligent fashion.

I totally endorse  The Lake to all readers of my blog.   It is not hard to follow at all.   It would make a good first Japanese novel or a good 100th one.  

I was provide a free copy of this book by the publisher for which I am very grateful.  They also have provided me a copy of The Lake to give to one of my readers.   If you are interested please complete this form by July 26.

Mel u


Em said...

I have not read anything by Yoshimoto, for the simple reason that I had never heard of her until two weeks ago. As is often the case when you notice a new author, that peson's name keep popping up everywhere. What I have read so far really makes me want to read one of her novels...

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I've been wanting to check this author out since I heard about her several months ago. Thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, I'm in for this Challenge, and I would love to discover this author that I keep running into.
Emma @ Words And Peace

Bellezza said...

I'm not sure where my Summer has gone, and I can't believe that I still haven't read this! Glad to know you whole-heartedly endorse it, and interesting that Good-bye Tsugumi is your favorite Yoshimoto. I think my favorite is Kitchen, but we'll see after I read The Lake.

Mel u said...

Em-I think any of her books is a good starting point-one is not hugely better than another

Michelle@ The True Book Addict
-thanks so much for your comment and visit

wordsandpeace-I am glad you have joined the challenge and will look forward to reading your posts

Bellezza-I hope you are able to get to this one!

@parridhlantern said...

not read any of her works yet, but Kitchen is sat on my shelf waiting.