17 February 2010

Kitchen (Banana Yoshimoto)

A short and perfectly formed book has inspired in me a short (and needless to say) perfectly formed review.

I often feel with translated works that I am missing out on some integral X-factor that made the original worthy of translation in the first place. I have no great faith in the literary talents of the translator. Say what you like about Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation of War and Peace- at the end of the day they didn't write the freaking thing.

However, with Kitchen I suspect the original is just as sparsely written as the version I have read. I mean, there's an economy of words- and then there's Yoshimoto. The anti-Rushdie if you will. The two short stories about mourning and reawakening after the death of a loved one throb with intensity and yearning, although most of the time the characters are talking about nothing more potent than noodles or kitchen utensils. Yoshimoto does not hide behind an impressive vocabulary or complicated metaphors. She expresses herself as if in conversation with the reader. I am so in awe of this. To make the stories so casual and carefree- whilst still maintaining a beautiful, lyrical rhythm- is a gift.

Rating: 9/10.
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