Mstation Book Reviews
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Fri, 29 Feb 2008

Banana Yoshimoto, Amrita

Banana Yoshimoto, Amrita, Faber and Faber

We first came across Banana Yoshimoto (great name!) in one of Foyle's shops in London and this book came, a few weeks later, from a second hand shop in Berlin. It was first published in English in 1997.

If you're familiar with a strand of Japanese writing that started in the mists of the past and progresses to now through such as Akutagawa and Murikami, you'll know about the rich worlds that include large doses of spirituality and the bizarre. Yoshimoto is more than just a "now" version of this however. For one thing, she has a delightfully positive take on the lives of her characters rather than the "shit happens" darkness that is commonplace in the works of the other two mentioned. Perhaps Banana's femininity is a factor here - we don't know.

This book traces the life of a young woman and her family, as her sister kills herself, she loses her memory and regains it, and her younger step-brother is found to have special powers. There is quite a lot of interior examination which proceeds like a trickle of clear water trying to find its resting place ... the adjective "lovely" springs to mind, and, if you're lucky, perhaps her memories will evoke something within yourself that speaks of sun, a warm breeze, and special friendships.

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