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.