A celebrated Japanese writer has committed suicide, leaving behind a collection of stories written in English, N.P. But the book may never be published in his native Japan: each translator who takes up the ninety-eighth story chooses death too -- including Kazami Kano's boyfriend, Shoji. Haunted by Shoji's death, Kazami is inexorably drawn to three young people whose lives are intimately bound to the late writer and his work. Over the course of an astonishing summer, she will discover the truth behind the ninety-eighth story -- and she will come to believe that "everytking that had happened was shockingly beautiful enough to make you crazy."...Continua
I had a weird feeling reading this book. I'm not sure if it was because that's how it's supposed to make you feel (I've never read a Japanese novel before) or because the English language was lacking something, body, maybe? At times the dialogue felt poor, sentences not linked one to the other, expressions that did not quite fit, like when you're playing a piece of music and miss one key and the result is obviously wrong but at the same time close to what it should be.
As for the story, it was my first Yoshimoto book so I was not expecting anything in particular. I liked how simply she writes, a very straight forward manner that allows you to read the book in just one go. I disliked all the drama, though, I couldn't quite sympathize with the characters and did not understand what exactly they live on, something that bothered me. They seem to go for lunch and dinner a lot with one another, rent nice apartments... but what do they do? And what did they do in Boston? Where does their money come from? Did the author think it was not relevant to mention these things more extensively? Or maybe it is me, and find that it is hard to place a set of characters, a story, in a world where having jobs and money is no longer taken for granted? Is Yoshimoto portraying Japanese society?
In any case, I do think Np is an interesting read, even if it is only to give the reader a glimpse of one summer in a big city in Japan. One thing I really enjoyed it was how easy it was to imagine the scenes how easily one could see the characters being played in a Japanese film with English subtitles. I'm sure I'll try one of her other novels....Continua
Ormai ho imparato ad apprezzare lo stile unico e lineare della Yoshimoto. Riesce ad esprimere con naturalezza e senza falsi pudori anche temi scottanti, come la morte e l'incesto. I libri di questa autrice mi lasciano sempre una dolce atmosfera sospesa tra sogno e realtà....Continua
Bisogna andarci cauti con i giapponesi. Tante volte non riesco ad entrare pienamente nella loro mentalità, quasi ci fosse una barriera invisibile tra la loro percezione della realtà e la mia, occidentale puro. Le possibilità son due: o sono in qualche modo più attenti e sensibili di noi, oppure la loro non è che una grandissima autosuggestione per tutte le cose. Parlano e agiscono come se fossero sempre su un filo ambiguo che divide realtà e fantasia, non rendendosi conto, però, che spesso gli sfugge il senso del reale, di ciò che vogliono e dovrebbero fare per davvero. Ho la sensazione che preferiscano mille volte chiudersi in una bolla e lasciarsi trasportare dal destino, vada come vada. Sotto questo punto di vista la nostra pragmaticità è, paradossalmente, più rassicurante, pericolosa ma rassicurante....Continua
My first Banana Yoshimoto. It didn't disappoint. Has the same eerie otherworldly quality as Murakami. I will definitely be looking out for more of her work.