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Kitchen Paperback – March 1, 1994

136 customer reviews

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Paperback, March 1, 1994
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this translation of a best-selling novel first published in Japan in 1987, the young narrator, Mikage, moves into the apartment of a friend whose mother is murdered early in the tale. What seems like a coming-of-age melodrama quickly evolves into a deeply moving tale filled with unique characters and themes. Along the way, readers get a taste of contemporary Japan, with its mesh of popular American food and culture. Mikage addresses the role of death, loneliness, and personal as well as sexual identity through a set of striking circumstances and personal remembrances. "Moonlight Shadows," a novella included here, is a more haunting tale of loss and acceptance. In her simple and captive style, Yoshimoto confirms that art is perhaps the best ambassador among nations. Recommended for all fiction collections.
- David A. Berona, Westbrook Coll. Lib., Portland, Me.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Ms. Yoshimoto’s writing is lucid, earnest and disarming . . . [It] seizes hold of the reader’s sympathy and refuses to let go.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Banana Yoshimoto is a master storyteller. . . . The sensuality is subtle, masked, and extraordinarily powerful. The language is deceptively simple.” —Chicago Tribune

“Yoshimoto shouldn’t be shy about basking in her celebrity. Her achievements are already legend.”—The Boston Globe

“A meditation on the transience of beauty and love…Melancholy and lovely.” –The Washington Post Book World
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671880187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671880187
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Stevens VINE VOICE on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I think it would be a mistake to write of Kitchen or Yoshimoto as a literary lightweight, a common knock against her. Mikage and Yuichi's struggles in the aftermath of shocking and devastating deaths was incredibly moving. Their need to create a brighter, happier life together in a death-filled world, to discover how to continue to live in a cruel and uncaring environment ... isn't that what we all are trying to do to some degree or another? Kitchen is a 4.5/5 star book in my opinion. If you liked Kitchen, I'd recommend Haruki Murakami ... especially "Dance, Dance, Dance" which touches on some similar themes but deals with them in very different ways.
Moonlight Shadow was a little whimsical for my tastes. The characters deal with the same issues as Mikage and Yuichi, but with a science fiction touch. Yoshimoto seemed to be trying too hard to make her point about moving on after death, rather than developing a good short story. It was a disappointing follow-up to Kitchen.
This is the first book of Yoshimoto's that I've read ... thanks to Kitchen, I'll be sure it's not the last. But I can only hope that the rest of her work is as well-writen as Kitchen and not like Moonlight Shadow.
One last comment: I read the Japanese version first, and I think the translator did a good job of getting Yoshimoto's style into English. It felt like the ending of the translation was more abrubt than the Japanese version, but I'm not sure why. Not sure if I'm the only one who felt that way or not ... In any event, I would definitely recommend Kitchen- see for yourself if you like it and Yoshimoto's style.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
When my friend Mini sent me this gift, I wanted to immediately loose myself in the pages. I kept thinking it was truly a book I would want to read all in one sitting. I wanted to curl up on a couch and have my two cats sleeping at my feet and how right I was!

Once I started reading, (my husband sound asleep, cats sleeping at my feet, and the house deathly quiet except for the quiet humming of the refrigerator), I was immediately drawn into Mikage Sakurai's world.

Banana Yoshimoto uses luscious descriptions of food and kitchens. She describes people and places with such poignancy, you truly feel connected to them. Her thoughts burst onto each page with such honesty, you cannot help but fall in love with her innocent, charming writing style.

There are life and death issues in "Kitchen," we can all relate to. Her evocative writing will fill you with nostalgia for some of the cooking spaces you have perhaps left behind. Mostly I love my grandmother's kitchen best. The familiar creak of the oven door, the scooting sound of the chairs as we sit for a cup of tea, and the racks of cookbooks patiently waiting on the shelves. To imagine this kitchen without my grandmother was to imagine the entire house without a soul, without love, and without peace.

This is the emotion Mikage feels as she sleeps on the floor in her grandmother's kitchen. After loosing her grandmother, Mikage is lost, lonely and depressed. Her soul longs for the comfort of another soul who can understand her torment. She feels as though death surrounds her and she cannot escape.

For a time she finds happiness with Yuichi, who knew her grandmother well. He is living with his mother Eriko. Mikage goes to live with them until she can learn to handle her emotions.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By bonsai chicken on June 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Kitchen contains two stories, both of which concern a different young woman living her life in the aftermath of a terrible loss. In the title story, Mikage has just been left alone in the world after the passing of her grandmother, who was her last living relative. She is generously taken in by an acquaintance, a boy named Yuichi who knew her grandmother, and his transsexual mother Eriko. Eriko lets her stay for free as long as she promises to cook for them from time to time, and the three of them build a new family of sorts. Eventually, though, Mikage finds herself confronted with another tragedy.
The second story is called "Moonlight Shadow." Satsuki has lost a boyfriend in a car crash which also claimed the life of his younger brother's girlfriend. One day she meets a mysterious woman with a secret she wants to share. This story has a slight element of fantasy to it, a touching piece of magical realism.
The author has a deceptively simple style of writing which enables her to deal with weighty issues without them feeling oppressive. These works are deeply affecting, but they are poetic rather than doom-laden. I preferred the second story, which is tighter and has a definite resolution, whereas the first is more of a slice of life and though longer, felt a little incomplete. As always, I enjoyed the look at Japanese daily life.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cassandra on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
The first thing I thought about this book was that it reminded me of Kazuo Ishiguro's work. Not because he's also a japanese writer, but because their style is extremely similar. Does it have to do with japanese literary style? I'd love to learn more about authors like Ishiguro & Yoshimoto...Right now, all I know is that I've discovered (although a little late! ... since "Kitchen", Yoshimoto's first work, was published quite a few years ago...)one more favourite author.
"Kitchen", as you've read in most of the other reviews, has 2 parts. Some reviewers thought that "Moonlight shadow" (second part) didn't have a place in the book, at least not as much as the first part. The thing is, "Moonlight shadow" is so mesmerizing that if it had been put first in the book, readers would probably be wanting it to last more, & "Kitchen" to be excluded! What I'm trying to say is that both parts of the book are equally good, & both share the same main subject: that subject is loss.
Food and, for that matter, the kitchen, are offered as a means for consolation. The young heroine in the first part of the book only can fall asleep, after her grandmother dies, while lying next to the refrigerator, listening to its humming which comforts her. Food, friends (as the woman in "Moonlight Shadow"), heartfelt conversations, music...all these can help. But if after finishing Banana Yoshimoto's book you still feel there's no immediate & clean-cut solution to the problems presented in the book...well, that to me is what makes "Kitchen" a brilliant piece of literature, & very much true to life.
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