Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Japanese Literature Challenge Review!

Hardboiled and Hard Luck Banana Yoshimoto trans. Michale Emmerich

This was the book I read for the Japanese Literature Challenge.

Death isn't sad. What hurts is being drowned by these emotions.

I am always a fan of Yoshimoto's quiet, understated prose and moods. Like Kitchen,this book is actually two novellas packaged together.

The first is Hardboiled, which is about a woman coming to terms with the death of her ex-lover, exactly a year ago. Part ghost story, the reader gets bits and pieces of relationship history as the story goes on, putting together what happened and why our narrator feels the way she does. And while the sense of loss and death permeate the story, it's not a sad story, just peaceful.

The second is Hard Luck. The narrator's sister, Kuni, is lying in a coma after suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage a few weeks before getting married. While there is part of this story that focuses on the family getting (emotionally) ready to remove her from life support, there is a family drama that gives a lot of anger to this story. After slipping into a coma, Kuni's fiance disappeared to deal with his grief at his parents house. Her parents are upset by actions they see as selfish and spineless. It's made worse by the fact that his brother, Sakai, does visit Kuni in the hospital almost daily, becoming close friends with the narrator. The reader feels almost as emotionally drained as the narrator as she tries to balance her new friendship and her plans for the future with her sorrow and the sorrow and anger of her parents.

Yoshimoto manages to convey so much in so few words, her books always end up haunting me.

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nico said...

I love Ms. Yoshimoto, Kitchen is one of my favorites of all time. I went right and put a hold on this book. Thanks for the tip! I can't wait to read this!

MillyMarie said...

Sounds like a very emotional book, but I also like the fact there's 2 in 1. I'm going to add it to my wishlist.

btw: you won an award at my blog ;)