5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, gentle trio of novellettes
“Kitchen” is not at all what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting a “magical kitchen” type story, similar to Like Water for Chocolate where the kitchen is a metaphor or someplace where things happen. I was expecting cooking and ingredients, detailed recipes, manic energy and that sort of thing.
Instead, I got three sweet novellas, only two of them directly connected, about unspoken emotions and complex relationships, with the kitchen playing little more role than the title. Much of my expectations came from Banana Yoshimoto’s being hailed as a “young author” in Japan. A young author she may be, but she carries the legacy of Japanese literature and influence, and her subtle, underplayed emotions and simple/complex characters and plots are as alive and moving as Soseki.
There is magic here, of a quaint sort. And a ghost of two. A transvestite. But for the most part, this is the real world. The three novellas are connected in tone, if not in plot and characters. Each has its own charm, and each carries and ocean of depth beneath a seemingly shallow surface, which is the hallmark of Japanese literature. Love moves the world, but lovers must find and recognize each other.
Simply, a great book.