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The Nakano Thrift Shop Paperback – 4 Aug 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (4 Aug. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846276004
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846276002
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.8 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Subtle, graceful, wise, and threaded on a quirky humour, this exploration of the connections and disconnections between people kept me smiling long after the last page' -- Julia Rochester

'One for the holiday suitcase' -- Vogue

'Charming' -- Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist

'The Nakano Thrift Shop is really a love story, albeit a very offbeat one... A gentle book, full of charm [and] radiating leftfield charisma'

'The delightful nature of the story comes from the magic of the ordinary and the everyday goings on in the shop owned by the enigmatic Mr Nakano.' -- i paper

'The ever-readable, ebulliently-imaginative Japanese novelist burst the four small walls of Nakano-san's bric-a-brac shop with this tale of unusual, unrelated but inextricably intertwined characters.' -- Monocle magazine

'A novel about identity, loneliness and about non-conformism. With Kawakami's writing raising questions about sex and identity it is no surprise that her novels are so popular in structured, and often formal, Japan. This is a great novel and a highly accessible introduction to Japanese fiction.' -- Words Shortlist blog

'Kawakami is one of Japan's most popular contemporary novelists and, thanks to Allison Mark Powell's translation, we get to enjoy this meanderings and innocent novel... A tenderly handled mystery and a fractured love story. Delightful' -- Press Association

'Highly enjoyable and surprisingly accessible. Significant praise should be given to Allison Markin Powell's excellent work in translating the book' -- Sleepless Editor blog

'Written in quietly understated prose infused with a gentle humour, Kawakami's novel is an absolute delight. The four principle characters are wonderfully drawn - eccentric, idiosyncratic and thoroughly engaging. [...] I loved it - a welcome antidote to the twenty-four-hour misery cycle that is our news at the moment, and a reminder that joy can be found in the most prosaic of lives.' -- A Life in Books blog

'Hitomi takes in her town's characters and dramas - and finds love - from behind the cash register.' -- Grazia

'A charming read from the bestselling Japanese author Hiromi Kawakami' --Good Housekeeping

About the Author

Born in 1959 in Tokyo, HIROMI KAWAKAMI is one of Japan's most popular contemporary novelists, and was awarded the Akutagawa Prize in 1996. Her novel Strange Weather in Tokyo was shortlisted for both the Man Asia Literary Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has been translated into thirteen languages.

ALLISON MARKIN POWELL is a literary translator and editor in New York City. Her translations include works by Osamu Dazai, Fuminori Nakamura, and Kanako Nishi, and she was the guest editor for the first Japan issue of Words Without Borders. She maintains the database, Japanese Literature in English, at http://www.japaneseliteratureinenglish.com.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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I guess there is the temptation to somehow label Kawakami's books 'love stories'. I don't think they are. They are more narratives about how the characters time and again struggle to bridge those vertiginous distances that sometimes exist between human beings, whether that is mother-daughter, brother-sister, teacher-student, lovers, friends or others. They are also about the distances that not just others, but we ourselves, create towards them and build upon.

Without going into the plot details, for the whole length of the book we are most of the time in the thrift shop of the title, run by Mr Nakano. Never boring, never slow, never repetitive. More difficult to achieve than it seems. Two of his employees are young people (one of which is our female narrator) and the last central character is Mr Nakano' sister. All the little wonderful, superbly simple yet deeply complex tales of people and their mysteries will spin out of this place.

I don't remember now that much about this title, but Ernst Lubitsch's film "The Shop around the Corner" suddenly came back to me when I was reading "The Nakano Thrift Shop". Something about the humour, the compassion and the stubbornness of characters trying to find and reach each other. In the case of this book, a thrift shop is such a perfect set-up for the unfolding of story. There is not even the need to move the characters out of the receptacle of the shop. Objects arrive to the shop, and then they leave the shop. People -with their own private stories- bring or buy those objects. Objects, ultimately, cause story, push story, motivate story. They arrive to Mr Nakano's shop full of little narratives, carrying stories within them and intersecting in strange ways. They are a bit like the silent characters in the book.
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I am used to the sensation of not quite grasping the essence of a book when I read Japanese authors. It is as if I am chasing the fog, spirit or mirage. Everything is very subtle, very unframed, very "read the air and make your guess". Sometimes this irritates me, because characters stubbornly refuse to act how I would expect them in the West. Sometimes it is charming. This book is very good at catching you and gently leading you through something approximating a love story, several love stories in fact. The main character is pretty reserved, she observes and feels a lot but doesn't act much. Her emotional storms are mostly inside. Sometimes it almost reads like Japanese haiku: "I thought I hated all men. The heater hissed quietly". People around her live their complicated lives and in their own unique ways try to help her deal with her emotional challenges. The stories unfold in a dense confined world of a thrift shop with it's own rules and customers. Each story rotates around items brought for sale, their history and emotions they cause. And chapter after chapter we watch how the characters interact, grow, and change.

To me the main line was - don't miss your chance to say important words to people you love. Life goes quickly. In one of the character's words: "I missed the chance to tell him he was the love of my life". It also stroke me how lonely people were, like the man in the shop who's closest friend was a dog he loved since childhood and lost several years ago.
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Cannot say how much I enjoyed this book, love how the chapters all revolve around items in the store,
really interesting characters throughout the book, gentle beautifully observed story, only wish it had been longer and that Hiromi Kawakami would produce work more quickly !
I want more
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I dipped in and out of this book over many months. It's really only the last third that rattles along at a good pace. Stubbornness or curiosity or both made me keep returning to it and towards the end I found it captivating. It'sa slow read, or at least it was for me. But it is interesting with well drawn characters.
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I enjoyed reading this. I like the style, the atmosphere and the approach to life. It's just ordinary people getting through the days, but as they are Japanese there is an insight into Japanese life and modern culture.
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I had a big smile on my face throughout, loved every minute.
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If you liked "Strange Weather..." don't hesitate to buy this. No murders, no car chases, no aliens, just a wonderful tale of everyday life in urban Japan.
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Fun, likeable and enjoyable ☺️
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