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Kitchen [Paperback]

Banana Yoshimoto , Megan Backus
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

23 July 1997

Kitchen juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, bereavement, kitchens, love and tragedy in contemporary Japan. It is a startlingly original first work by Japan's brightest young literary star and is now a cult film.

When Kitchen was first published in Japan in 1987 it won two of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, climbed its way to the top of the bestseller lists, then remained there for over a year and sold millions of copies. Banana Yoshimoto was hailed as a young writer of great talent and great passion whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of modern literature, and has been described as 'the voice of young Japan' by the Independent on Sunday.


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Kitchen + Woman at Point Zero + Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (23 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571171044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571171040
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto 26 July 2008
Format:Paperback
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto was always going to find its way into my life somehow. Im a fan of Haruki Murakami, and after reading a sparkling review of Kitchen, i decided to give it a go.

The author notes in the preface that this is a story that she has always wanted to tell, and the agonising emotions laid down throughout the book are not dissimilar to the outpouring of feeling a band will display in thier first album. and although the story can be at times confusing and impulsive, Yoshimoto throws pure feeling at us with every page.

The main story revolves simply around a boy and a girl falling beautifully for eachother, however around love is a landscape littered with sadness and the death of almost everyone else they ever felt for.
Unmistakably Japanese in style, and unique in the way the words are placed upon the pages, i would recommend Kitchen to anyone who is looking for something truly original to read.

It is tough going at times, but the words flow easliy enough to make sure that the read is satisfying and will leave you looking at things around you through different eyes. A simple but nevertheless decent book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A simple modern love story 3 Feb 2007
Format:Paperback
This is one of the most famous Japanese postmodern novels. The main plot about a modern young woman struggling with grief and trying to find love is very touching and delicately handled really. A female protagonist obsessed with kitchens sounds potentially annoying, but she is actually quite likeable, and it is obvious a lot of Yoshimoto's personal experiences and affections have gone into her character. The plot follows Mikage's attempts to reconstruct her life after it was shattered by the death of the last member of her family.

It is interesting and unique, introducing many daring and ununsual themes, such as obsession, bereavement, motherhood and transsexualism. The novel does not go into much depth in its discussions of these themes, mostly relying on a certain ineffable something to convey its message. The characters' personality deformities are treated as natural and even endearing, and the often bizarre nature of the themes is accepted as an inevitable part of life.

There is nothing really deep about this novel. One feels concern and affection for the fates of the characters, and an interest in the themes of the novel. However, it is very short - I read it in one sitting. I believe there could have been room to discuss in depth some of the interesting issues that Yoshimoto raises here, but I suppose that was neither her intention nor desire. Perhaps she wishes to say that it is pointless worrying about such things, that one should just accept them and carry on with life, because otherwise something wonderful might be missed in the present or just around the corner.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Read 25 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
This is the first book that I read of Yoshimoto's work. This piece was really different from the type of books that I usually read but I was pleasantly surprised. The theme of this book is quite an unusual one of our main character's struggle to come to terms with the death of the last member of family that she has. Felling utterly alone, Mikage comes to live with a friend and his transsexual mother and we learn of each of their stories. Mikage finds comfort in one of the most mundane things in our lives, the kitchen. Here she finds the time to heal and come to terms with the great loss that she feels. Yoshimoto uses simple imagery to portray complex ideas which makes it a refreshing and enjoyable read. Her style of writing also draws you into the world of the characters. Although this book does not go into much depth outside of the ideas of loss and mourning, this being my only criticism, I would recommend this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life, death and the joy of kitchens. 21 July 2004
Format:Paperback
Banana Yoshimoto's sparse style of prose evokes a serene sense of repose. It's protagonist, Mikage, is so endearing that one feels that they are reading the intimacies of a close friend. The recently bereaved Mikage finds comfort in Yuichi. Mikage's mourning is averted when Yuichi suffers his own loss. The pain of their mutual bereavement brings the couple together. Mikage and Yuichi find solace in one another, and their touching relationship is both uplifting and inspirational. Kitchen is a novel that is cast with shadows, but is tinged with rays of hope.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and promising prose but unemotional 14 Jan 2008
By E&S
Format:Paperback
It is true that Yoshimoto expresses a well structured, easy going and promising prose in this book but I personally found her writing rather cold and lacking in empathy. The result is that this book, which is centered on two very easily moving issues (love and death), is incapable of emotionally involving the reader and leaves nothing to really remember in the long run.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, a true understated masterpiece 23 Feb 2003
Format:Paperback
It is this book that Banana Yoshimoto first enthralled me with. I read it in two sittings and in it she creates an incredible image of Japanese life. Though written a couple of decades ago, it is timeless, and the ordinary treatment of Mikage's strikingly different Japanese lifestyle makes this so unique to a Westerner such as myself. Though the subjects are apparently bland, there is always a slight air of the supernatural in the way the events are put forward, and the prose is enchanting - there is the very real possibility of both laughing and crying with genuine sadness within two pages of each other!
It is hard to write about a book I love so much without bias, but it is truly difficult to find any flaws in the book. Perhaps the second tale is a little contrived and the jump between them is bewildering as there is little introduction to the second tale, but this may perhaps be intentional.
The subject of food and kitchens is one that I could easily relate to, even across the continental divide and even though I am not a particular 'foodie'. It is the incredible description of a kitchen that can really make you stop reading and think, not of any particular image of a kitchen, but of the exact mood you know Mikage feels as she dreams of her old kitchen and steps into her new, foreign but friendly kitchen. The way Banana Yoshimoto elevates the kitchen to such high importance is amazing.
The whole episode of going out in the middle of the night and chancing upon an incredibly good take-away restaurant and then going hundreds of miles by taxi and climbing up the side of a hotel to deliver some food is incredibly ridiculous, but it is because the author seems to agree 'isn't this strange?' that you have to laugh even when the twisted tale gets more and more distressing.
It is a dumbfounding book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Excellent, Brilliant
Wonderful story, Excellent writer, Brilliant Read
Published 8 days ago by Seligor
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read.
A very good read. Would strongly recommend it. It has that slightly surreal style that Japanese writers often have, but at the same time a good story line and good characters.
Published 1 month ago by iCat
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books I've ever read- am inspired to read more of her work.
Published 1 month ago by Leilah
3.0 out of 5 stars "Lost in translation"
Read in both Japanese and English. Her unique style is sadly lost in translation. It would be very difficult to translate in English the rhythm, onomatopoeia,change of mood,... Read more
Published 9 months ago by mn London
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales about loss
Written in a minimalist way, which makes some people say that it does not convey any emotion. I think it is very emotional in a very subtle way.
Published 9 months ago by CT
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual, Off-Beat Story
Mikage, the heroine of Banana Yoshimoto's novella 'Kitchen' is an orphan who, since the death of her parents, has been cared for by her grandmother, who lives in a large apartment... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Susie B
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
OK but after reading some japanese novel recently this ok is just ok to me. It is different, very different and maybe that's why you may want to read it.
Published 12 months ago by not happy one
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting, well paced and the characters were mulit layered and showed great development. Read more
Published 17 months ago by CatrionaMayJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This was my first book by Yoshimoto Banana, but I will definitely read more.
Very interesting story and good translation.
Published on 19 Dec 2011 by bookreader
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A brilliant little book. Both stories are a lovely read and the author is a great writer. Recommend it wholly.
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by ilovereading
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