Kitchen – by Banana Yoshimoto

This book contains two novellas, Kitchen and Moonlight Shadow. The two protagonists are both female college students suffering from the death of a loved one: a grandmother in the first novella and a boyfriend in the second one.

Yoshimoto sympathizes with people’s gender identity issue. She changed her name from Mahako to Banana because of its androgynous qualities and her love for banana flowers. She had one transgender character in this book which was first published 30 years ago in 1988.

In both stories, there are deaths and grieving, love and loss, hope and despair, but the endings are optimistic and hopeful. I read in one of the interviews that Yoshimoto wanted her book to bring hope to the young people who may want to commit suicide in the wake of high suicidal rate in Japan. I’m sure her stories which are so luscious and heartwarming, which serve to tell the healing power of food, family and humanity will convey a positive and energetic message to society.

All in all, this book is a light and quick read. Yoshimoto’s writing was fresh and lively; she expressed delicate emotions, sensitive situations and gentle treatments elegantly. A very entertaining book.

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