Friday, July 9, 2021

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto


I picked this up again as part of my rereading project. Banana Yoshimoto was one of my favorite authors when I was younger and when I found my old books in the garage, the sight of these old covers filled me with an instant nostalgia hit.


All of Yoshimoto's books kind of have the same melancholic, dreamy feel. It appealed to me a lot as a precocious high school kid but I'm finding I don't like it quite as much now. Her heroines usually have something tragic happening to them, often death or some kind of loss. In this case, the heroine is an orphan who ends up living with a transgender woman and her son.

At first, I was enjoying this book quite a bit. Eriko, the trans woman in question, is a fun character, and even though she feels like a manic pixie dream girl, I liked her presence in the story. I also liked how the book revolved around the kitchen. I like food- and cooking-related books, since I cook a lot with my mom.

But then... Eriko dies.

Because, you know, of course.

That made me so mad, her death. Especially since it happens because a straight angry dude gets mad that she's hot and murders her. It's that classic "trans panic" trope and it made me really upset. I know this book was published in the 1980s, but I think it's the sort of thing that bears mentioning because the reaction that people are going to have to this isn't limited by date. Ugh.

I remember giving this a three-star rating when I read it for the first time. Now, it's a two.

2 out of 5 stars

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