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4.1 out of 5 stars
Kitchen
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 1999
Firstly, anyone looking for more reviews of this book should look at the US Amazon site, where there are several. I would just echo one of the opinions stated there, i.e. although this book is so good that it can take a bad translation, it would be good to see an improved or new version someday. If English is your only language, this shouldn't discourage you from reading Kitchen, a powerful story told with great skill.
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on 11 December 2010
Kitchen is a collection of two stories, and was the first translated publication to introduce Banana Yoshimoto, a Japanese literary star, to English readers.

In 'Kitchen', Mikahe's grandmother dies, leaving her granddaughter alone until Mikahe is invited to stay with Yuichi, her grandmother's friend. Mikahe soon becomes part of Yuichi's family, until Yuichi's transsexual father is violently killed, forcing them all to face a darker future.

Moonlight Shadow, the other story, is Kitchen's literary sister in a number of ways. However, lovers rather than relatives die and their surviving relatives are left to build their lives.

Yoshimoto sensitively portrays the pain of bereavement and the struggle to survive lost love, and she is equally strong in celebrating the pleasures of friendship (through food, cooking, and kitchens, the references to which are sometimes reminiscent of 'Tampopo', the wonderful 1985 Japanese film by Juzo Itami). Unfortunately, both stories are tainted by moments of dated or contrived description. Tighter editing would have ensured that Yoshimoto's talent was better reflected.
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on 30 May 2011
This book is two stories, Kitchen and Moonlight Shadow, following young people who are greiving for loved ones. Told in just 150 pages, Banana's style is simple and easy to read, yet the emotion evoked by the attachments and analogies she creates is very moving.

Kitchen illustrates the simple things that can offer comfort in times of desperation, how grief can bring people together and how love and death shape our lives. The characters are described beautifully in this story - the language is selected so carefully that the reader is able to know so much of them on an emotional level without really being told too much at all.

Moonlight Shadow is the shorter of the two stories, and is a vivid demonstration of the pain, sadness and healing process that follows the death of someone close.

The language of this book does not suffer at all in its translation from Japanese, and it is a pleasure to be able to read work from international writers.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2000
This novel (and short story) is easy to read and conveys student life in Tokyo evocatively. Yoshimoto writes in the tradition of Japanese post-war novelists who retain older, more traditional themes. Her magic-realism is a little forced, and the book has a slightly immature and teenage feel to it, emphasising emotions but adding little depth to the reflections. It is entertaining, but not sophisticated. Her later novels are more mature and more impressive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2013
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting, well paced and the characters were mulit layered and showed great development.
It's hard to explain this one to people when they ask you about the plot and so on but I really recommend it.
Please please read this and savor every moment.
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on 14 May 2000
This is definately a stress free book to read. Well at least it gives me the impression due to the number of pages. Unexpectedly, this book coveys such strong messages of a different perspective of life, in general. The way people view life under different situations and the fact that some people may just go on living life without even being physically there. Anyway, I ended up reading every word and absorbing ever single phrases... to the extend of carrying the book everywhere I go , when commuting and even at dinner table. After finding a new author with such brilliant, simple and down to earth style of writing, I read all her books to date and patiently waiting for the new one - Asleep to be published! A definate must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2014
A very unusual little book set in Japan about a girl who feels at home inkitchen,it has a surprising charm.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 1999
Sneaking out of an academic conference in Manchester, I escaped into a local bookstore in search of non-academic and stress-relieving fictional books. Happening upon a small stand which featured contemporary Japanese writers, I found Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen calling to me "Pick me up!" It's a pretty thin book, about 150 pages, and I thought it would be a simple, relaxing read whilst taking the long train back home.
What turned out to be a casual read became instead one of those few books that actually had me reading non-stop! Kitchen actually comprises of 2 short stories: Kitchen and Moonlight Shadow. Each, on its own, is a romantic love story which warmed my heart and gave me that glowy feeling (like after reading a Nicholas Sparks novel). I was captured by the simplicity of the story and yet the captivating characters and delightfully magical atmosphere in which the story was immersed in. Imagine a girl whose life revolves around the kitchen; she can tell a person's character from it, finds solace in it, and ultimately love. If you're looking for stories with a twist in the end, look elsewhere; these stories by Banana are endearingly straightforward and because of that, hides the wonderful complexity of the characters she has developed.
In short... READ IT!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Don't be put off by the somewhat abstract summary of the book's content, Kitchen is a work of art. Banana Yoshimoto writes with fluency and emotion, drawing you into the heart of the protagonist's story. Set in contemporary Japan, the story revolves around the life of Mikage, recently bereaved, in her search for resolution. Kitchen is a little philosophy on life; a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on 29 April 2015
This is a lovely book and my second purchase of it as I lost my first copy to a friend. The author creates a warm feeling with her stories of love, life and death. A book worth reading!
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