Wednesday, June 2, 2021

NP by Banana Yoshimoto



So I'm doing a project where I reread books from my adolescence to see how they hold up. I went through a pretty big Banana Yoshimoto phase in high school and when I found all my old books in the garage, I definitely wanted to give them a reread because I remembered liking them so much.

The last book I read was GOODBYE TSUGUMI and I wasn't impressed. I couldn't even finish that one. I made it to the end of NP but I wasn't really impressed by this one, either. It's a shame because the premise is so cool. It's about this cursed work of Japanese literature that was written in English and everyone who tries to translate it into Japanese ends up killing themselves (TW). 

The heroine, Kazami, is acquainted with the book because her boyfriend, Shoji, was one of the casualties. Things get complicated when she meets the two children of the author and the woman who was the inspiration for the author's twisted and depressive work.

Here's the thing about Banana Yoshimoto's works. They are like being in a dream. They are wistful and full of emotion, but they also aren't grounded and they tend to be pretty forgettable. Often I find that I only remember the hook of her books and forget all the rest. For example, GOODBYE TSUGUMI is the book about two cousins at an inn and one of them is dying. This one is about a cursed book. AMRITA is about an atypical family where one of the daughters committed suicide. I will say this, her style appears to be unique enough that it is consistent across translators which speaks to the force of her personality. It makes me wonder if perhaps the books are much better in her native Japanese.

I am sorry to say that this book didn't really hold up for me. I am hoping that one of her other books will.

2 out of 5 stars

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