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Asleep Paperback – 6 Aug 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, 6 Aug 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Faber; New e. edition (6 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571207731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571207732
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.1 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,155,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Banana Yoshimoto's Asleep is actually three novellas: "Night and Night's Travelers", "Love Songs" and "Asleep". The death of those close to the narrator is a recurring theme in the stories with sleep being used as a vehicle in which the everyday is denied whilst more important spiritual matters--coming to terms with the death, and life, of loved ones--can be achieved. In "Night and Night's Travelers" the narrator's brother has died and his lover has begun sleepwalking--her night-walks are a communion, a curse and a blessing, and a route through to understanding. In "Love Songs", a woman involved with a man whose wife is in a coma begins to sleep uncontrollably. In "Asleep" the narrator is haunted by an old rival in a love triangle--again, through sleep, and perhaps through dreams or a certain kind of sensibility, a hitherto forbidden or foreclosed communion flourishes. Yoshimoto has a wonderfully light touch and whilst the characterisation in these novellas is slight and the mysticism a little cloying, the optimism is infectious and the sadness beautifully articulated. "Asleep" is well worth staying awake for. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Not being a great fan of short stories I started to read these with little expectation, but I found myself transported into wonderful imagery and meeting fascinating characters. Each short story is tinged with bitter-sweetness and is a gem to read. My only regret was that my favourite 'Night and Night's Travellers' did not go on for longer. Well worth a read.
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Format: Paperback
The three novellas within Asleep cast an eerie penumbra around the times of shadow depicted in each. With a subtlety and economy that lulls the reader, the book is repeatedly in danger of enveloping you in the same emotional lethargy the characters find themselves in. I got a sense that each character had an incomplete sense of self that was never resolved by each story's supposed redemption; that each heroine (and the invariably failed female characters juxtaposed against her) spun the strand of meaning for her world around the male core within each tale. The conclusions grant little in the way of autonomy to the female leads, but instead find them escaping from an addiction, an addiction to the soothing blanket of depression, into a dawn illuminated by a reaffirmation of devotion. I read a latent cultural misogyny into all this that makes the book eerie in an entirely unexpected way.
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Format: Paperback
Hallejuah! A new Banana Yoshimoto has arrived! The three novellas: Night and Night's Travellers, Long Songs and Asleep, that make up this volume are linked by themes of sleep, dreams, insomnia, and things that wander into our minds in that half-dream state that sometimes catches us in the morning as we struggle to rise.
Banana Yoshimoto is a deceptively simple writer, elegant and subtle, effortlessly inhabiting her characters and allowing her readers to slip into her weird and enigmatic worlds. All the narrators in Asleep are women, struggling with loss, lethargy, sleep and and ghosts of one sort or another. Love seeps through these stories; one woman calls to a dead woman in her sleep wondering if she loves her; another falls for a man, whose wife is in a coma, and another cannot comes to terms with her overwhelming grief for her dead brother. All facets of love are explored in this delicately wrought collection. Her gift as a writer I think, is that she brings a sense of the supernatural, the beyond, otherness, into everyday lives, often during times of extreme emotion, when body and mind are crying out for a sense of coherence.
Try this beautiful book.Read it in bed, warm at night, let Banana Yoshimoto weave her spell. I guarantee you'll love Asleep and then you'll have to go and search out her other books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8cc76474) out of 5 stars 28 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bcab270) out of 5 stars another winner from a unique writer 9 April 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
yoshimoto banana has a way of looking at the world through literature that is unique of any other in the world. She tells as it is and reflects upon any emotion the character may be feeling. In this way, just as our memories are a constant stream of events, Yoshimoto's characters are free to reflect, to dwell on things, and to suddenly remember something. She isn't afraid to mention things again or to say something that you don't see coming. Her endings are very true to life as well. She's not afraid of tragedy and her characters show this. Asleep is an incredible and VERY REAL book. Another winner for Yoshimoto. I liked ASLEEP best of the three novellas. Her characters seem so complete as to have such complicated pasts. Pick it up today for something truly unique.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bdf615c) out of 5 stars Somnambulism 28 Dec. 2003
By Zack Davisson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Slumber, Drunkenness, Death and Love are the topics explored in Banana Yoshimoto's "Asleep." As with "Kitchen," there are three novellas linked thematically but not by characters or plot. Three women, all in love with someone emotionally of physically dead, all troubled sleepers, all drinkers, try to find rest and quietude that is not found in sleep. Each aspect is a metaphor for the unconscious, where perhaps the answers lie. For in this sleep of death, who know what dreams may come? Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know it's really serious. Drink, don't think. Seeking answers, the women look to their friends, their family, magical dwarfs or anyone who can help.
"Asleep" is told in Yoshimoto style, like a story overheard with half-open eyes while drifting off to sleep. It is semi-magical and dreamy, but still in touch with the real world. The pacing, the narrative are all influenced by classical Japanese literature. Her writing is very gentle, very feminine. And poetic.
An enjoyable, lazy book. Good for seekers of love and those who cannot sleep at night.
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bfffbc4) out of 5 stars Where is my mind? 14 Sept. 2000
By peter wild - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Okay so. I'm on a train, I'm on a bus, I'm on a plane. I'm in transit. For "transit" read that time that exists outside of time. The time between times. I'm neither in one place or another. I'm between zones. Transit is the perfect place for Banana Yoshimoto, because I can't quite make up my mind about her.
I liked "Kitchen" and I hated "Amrita". Just so you know where I'm coming from. I thought "Kitchen" was intriguing in a Douglas Coupland-y way. I thought "Amrita" was dull dull dull. "Amrita" was one of those books you read where you spend half the time checking how much you've read (am I half way yet? am I half way yet? does this book go on forever? you get the message).
It could be a translation thing. What was it Shelley said about translation? Something about how translation is like putting a violet in a crucible? Something like that.
"Asleep" is funny. Not funny haha. Funny peculiar.
Three shortish stories making up one shortish book. Each story has its own characters. None of the characters from one story decamp to another. Yet, there is a sense that you tread similar ground three times here. There are dead people at the heart of the book. Dead brothers. Dead lovers. Dead friends. Dead rivals. Living people mistaken for ghosts. Mourning girls who walk through snow without noticing the cold.
It's kind of half "Kitchen" and half "Amrita". Parts of it are intriguing - in that parts of it suggest there is more at work here than the casual unfolding of ordinary lives - and parts of it feel bad. Parts of it feel badly written. Or badly translated. Hard to tell. Certain passages read like excerpts from a teenager's diary or a New Age self-help book.
"Asleep" is like some weird kind of textual anemone : it draws you in, it knocks you back. You want to praise the fragility of the emotion, you want to curse the blandness of the thoughts.
You get the impression that Banana enjoys dreams, the significance of dreams, the roles that dreams play in life and sleep. This is true in "Kitchen" and "Amrita" too. Banana appears to enjoy using dreams as a function. Dreams tell you as much about Banana Yoshimoto's characters as suits and ties do in HG Wells.
There is contrivance here. Elaborate contrivance for little or no effect. At one point - in the story "Asleep" - a character visits a dwarf medium ("Twin Peaks" anyone?) to lay nagging doubts to rest. The doubts are eased. And that's that. It is as if you have been presented with an enormous velvet firework only to find the gunpowder is damp.
There is no centre here. "Asleep" lacks heart or head or a combination of the two. Something.
It's like the time spent in transit I mentioned right at the start : you don't quite know where you are at any given time and you don't quite remember what you passed through when you arrive at your destination. You only wish you could have passed the journey in a more satisfactory way.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c357714) out of 5 stars Has that distinct Banana flavour, yet unique from her other! 5 April 2001
By K. Brown - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've enjoyed all of Banana Yoshimoto's books, my favorite being the short story collection "Lizard." What I loved about this book of three novellas is that we have three entirely different tales with identical elements: sleep lending itself as a catalyst or barrier in the womens' lives; and each grieving over the untimely death of somebody who touched their lives. What struck me most -even above the theme of sleep- is the varying impact that those who passed away have had on the people they left behind. In "Night and Night's Travelers," the see the loss of Yoshihiro through his sister's eyes, yet the story shows how his short life had a rich impact on two other key characters. "Love Songs" takes an interesting twist when a young woman learns that a woman who was her nemesis (they battled over a selfish lover) has died, and works to make peace the departed. The third tale "Asleep," gives us a narcoleptic young woman who copes with a close friend's suicide, and simultaneously deals with the fact that her lover's wife lay dormant in a coma. To tell much more of the plot would be giving away enough the wreck the enjoyment of these stories. Ms. Yoshimoto uses the hint of apparitions to paint a moving portrait of three women who must cope with these losses too soon in their lives. I am a complete mark for Banana Yoshimoto's work, I praise the page she writes on! That said, I would still recommend this book to someone who is unfamiliar with her work.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b9960c0) out of 5 stars The master storyteller is back! 4 Aug. 2000
By CoffeeGurl - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Banana Yoshimoto's novels have touched me in so many ways. Her lucid, subtle and disarming writing style is a work of art. She is a tour de force in contemporary fiction. I have waited a long time for the release of Asleep, and I am not disappointed.
The three novellas in Asleep are earnest, sensuous, eccentric, and extremely surreal. The three female characters in the book are bewitched into a spiritual and magical sleep. In Night and Night's Travelers, the first story, a woman finds herself sleepwalking at night. In Love Song, a woman's sleep is haunted by a rival whom she once competed with in a love triangle. And in Asleep, a woman loses her best friend to suicide. Also, she is having an affair with a man whose wife is in a coma. Things take a strange turn when she finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake. The stories are very ambiguous; you have to pay attention to every detail in order to grasp their meaning. The magical realism in the stories is as mystical as a ghost story and the language is deceptively simple -- it is meant to play with the reader's mind.
I am awed by this incredible piece of fiction. The stories are very well done and interestingly nuance. This is her most creative work since Kitchen and her best collection of stories since Lizard. Powerful and spooky, Asleep will capture your heart. I strongly urge you to read this one!
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