Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Lake; Banana Yoshimoto


Title: The Lake
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Melville House
Edition: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 4/13/2011 
Setting: Tokyo, Japan
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: Yes
 
I've read some excellent reviews for books written by Banana Yoshimoto, so I wanted to experience this author for myself. It was a different experience, but not an unpleasant one.

Chihiro is a 30-something Japanese woman whose mother had recently died. Chihiro's father was a Tokyo businessman, and son of rich, prominent parents. The kind of parents who would not have approved of a marriage between the two. Chihiro sees her mothers death in some ways as a blessing, but then she has not had time to deal with what the loss really means. Now that her mother has passed on, she sees herself as free. She is anxious to leave the small town she grew up in and see what the big city has to offer.

In Tokyo, her graphic artist background lands her a job painting a mural on an elementary school that was to be torn down. In her free time, she finds herself staring out of the window of her second floor apartment. In the building across the way, also on the second floor, a young man about her age is staring back at her. On a daily basis an unspoken friendship among two strangers begins until the two finally meet. The young man is, Nakajima, and before long the two begin a somewhat unusual relationship; he too has lost a mother. Nakajima is smart, studying genetics, yet he is emotionally cold, distant and definitely a bit odd. At first Chihiro thought he might even be gay, when in fact his painful past has affected his present self. As Chihiro learns more about the mysterious Nakajimi, she finds her art begins to reflect what she has learned about her new romantic interest. As the couple begins to find a comfortable rhythm together, the secrets of the past are brought to the forefront, disturbing the couple's new found peace.

This book was translated from the Japanese, so for me I had a little trouble with the flow. For most part, it was not a huge problem. Although the story held my interest, in that I wanted to find out the terrible thing that Nakajima had experienced in childhood, I was only able to read about 40 pages at a time of this less than 200 page novel. When all is finally revealed, and the final page had been turned, I was satisfied with what I had read. The Lake, is definitely different, a style that is not for everyone, but one you might enjoy, especially if you are a fan of author Haruki Murakami.

24 comments:

  1. Banana Yoshimoto is definitely something different. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. I have heard a lot about this author though I have never read any of her books. Time to get to it.

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  3. I haven't read anything by Banana Yoshimoto but after reading your reviews, I am definitely interested. The Lake sounds like an interesting read.

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  4. I've only read Yoshimoto's book Kitchen, but I remember really liking it a lot. I haven't heard of this one

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  5. I have enjoyed Yoshimoto in the past, but haven't read this one. Her books are normally very short so it sounds as though this is longer and slower than her usual style.

    Sorry to hear it didn't flow well - that is a probably problem with the traslation rather than because it was originally in Japanese :-(

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  6. I always wonder about the translations. How can an author be translated to a different language by a translator and keep the same flow, the same tone, the same magic. The story, I'm sure, will be the same so a plot-driven book works well in translation. Literary books probably not so much.

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  7. Sounds like an interesting read, Diane. The author is new to me (where have I been??). Translated books have been iffy at best for me but I'll watch for this one.

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  8. I have been wanting to try something from Banana Yoshimoto for a long time, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. It sounds like this book would work for me, and I am going to have to keep it in mind. Great review on this one!

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  9. I haven't read anything by Yoshimoto or Murakami, so I really need to get reading!! Thanks for the review.

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  10. I've been interested in this author as well. I wonder if the problem you had is because of the translation or because of the author's style. I'd still like to try one of her books.

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  11. You know this does sound interesting but I'm not sure it's for me.

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  12. I always get nervous about translated books, especially books translated from Asian languages, I think there are such nuances that can be missed. This sounds very interesting I definitely worth the effort.

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  13. At least it didn't totally lost in translation! Have a great weekend!!!

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  14. I hadn't heard of this author before, but this novel sounds intriguing.

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  15. I read recently that Yoshimoto is donating all of her profits from this book to earth quake victims-I have read a few of her books and look forward to reading this book soon-great review

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  16. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed Yoshimoto. This is another one of those authors that I've been hearing a lot about but I was never sure about. Sounds like something I would definitely enjoy.

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  17. I read Kitchen by her and really got into it. This one may have to be added to my TBR pile!

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  18. I seem to have missed this author too. Sometimes translations bother me and sometimes not so much. Fortunately for me my library system purchases a lot of literary books and not just the popular best sellers ... I'll have to watch for it and give it a try.

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  19. After reading what you said, you made me want to read this more. Thanks for this.

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  20. I haven't read either Yoshimoto or Murakami, but lately I've also read so many excellent reviews of this book. I'm eager to check this out but I'll also remember that this could be slow reading.

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  21. I just have to express how much I love this author's name.

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  22. I love the cover on this one and the premise sounds really something I'd want to get my hands on now.

    Going to search on Book Depository next. Great review and will keep in mind to stick to it even though the flow is somewhat offsetting.

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  23. I enjoyed reading your review because I have wondered about other of Yoshimoto's works. As I don't plan on reading this, is was nice to have a skim through as it were.

    I wrote a review on Kitchen if you're interested. Have you read that one?

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  24. I'm looking forward to this one, since I've heard so many rave about his work. I wonder if this would be good in an audio format?

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