Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus This book caught my eye on the bookstore shelf, and I'll be honest: after flipping through and reading the back, I was interested but not enough to bother. Then I got to the part on the jacket where the novel is compared to early Duras, and...being an absolute Duras fangirl, I couldn't resist. I bought it.

Kitchen was good, a great idea for a story, and I really do love what the author was attempting to do with the simple prose. Often I find that much more effective and emotionally resonant than the flowery sentences of other writers. However, her writing seemed to fall a little short, so sparse and quick-moving as to feel almost rushed. I suspect this isn't the author's fault but a problem with the translation. I have no doubt the true beauty of Yoshimoto's writing was lost. In minimalist story-telling, every last word matters, and changing even one causes the entire section to fall apart. I hate to fault an author for a translation wasn't her responsibility, but in this case, I can't help but have it affect the rating.

That being said, the themes in Kitchen, while dark and heavy, are delicately handled, evocative without being overwrought. Very nicely done, alone making the book worth reading.

Overall a good book, not one I'm likely to remember much of in a year. Potentially amazing in the original language, but in no way deserving, at least in this edition, the comparison to early Duras.