Banana Yoshimoto is one of my favorite authors at short story or novella length. I haven’t liked any of her novels as much as her work at shorter lengths.

Yoshimoto excels at the vivid depiction of all things hard to describe: relationships that don’t fall into standard categories, emotional states that are momentary but deeply felt, and the fine line between memories, dreams, and ghosts.

Her work is frequently fantasy or on its borderline, the sort of mainstream-friendly work which features spirits and psychics and curses but not, say, vampires or magical girls. A lot of her characters have unconventional love lives, sex lives, gender identities, gender expressions, or all of the above. Her style is very simple, very easy to read, but with a great deal of depth below the surface.

Her novella “Kitchen,” in the two-novella collection of the same name, is one of the most uplifting and beautiful stories I’ve ever read: love, grief, healing; family, gender identity, and a whole lot of delicious food. If you’ve never read Yoshimoto before, start there, and don’t miss her afterword. Click here to buy it from Amazon: Kitchen (A Black cat book)

I also really like her short story collection Lizard. One story in that, about magical meetings on the subway, was originally serialized in subway posters! Click here to buy that from Amazon: Lizard

Asleep, the one I just read, is a collection of three novellas about love and loss and sleep.

"Night and Night’s Travelers" is about three young women who loved the same man, one platonically (his sister) and two romantically (his former lover, an American, and his cousin.) His sister and cousin try to help each other through their grief after his death, and his American ex-girlfriend hovers around the edges of the story, in recollections, letters, and mysterious phone calls.

In "Love Songs," a young woman is haunted by a voice she hears singing to her as she falls asleep. She thinks it’s the voice of a woman she used to know in a complicated relationship halfway between polyamory and a love triangle, and visits a psychic to have one last conversation.

In Asleep, yet another young woman (Yoshimoto’s main characters are almost always young women) is in love with a man whose wife is in a vegetative state after an accident, and she falls under a spell of sleep herself.

My favorite of these was "Love Songs," though I also liked "Night and Night’s Travelers." I didn’t like "Asleep" as much, largely because the main relationship seemed too dysfunctional to survive. I overall enjoyed the collection, though. Click here to buy it from Amazon: Asleep

Another set of Yoshimoto novellas is Hard Boiled and Hard Luck, the first a ghost story, the second a better take on the themes of "Asleep." I liked them both quite a bit, especially the classically spooky atmosphere of the first. Click here to buy it from Amazon: Hardboiled and Hard Luck
Banana Yoshimoto is one of my favorite authors at short story or novella length. I haven’t liked any of her novels as much as her work at shorter lengths.

Yoshimoto excels at the vivid depiction of all things hard to describe: relationships that don’t fall into standard categories, emotional states that are momentary but deeply felt, and the fine line between memories, dreams, and ghosts.

Her work is frequently fantasy or on its borderline, the sort of mainstream-friendly work which features spirits and psychics and curses but not, say, vampires or magical girls. A lot of her characters have unconventional love lives, sex lives, gender identities, gender expressions, or all of the above. Her style is very simple, very easy to read, but with a great deal of depth below the surface.

Her novella “Kitchen,” in the two-novella collection of the same name, is one of the most uplifting and beautiful stories I’ve ever read: love, grief, healing; family, gender identity, and a whole lot of delicious food. If you’ve never read Yoshimoto before, start there, and don’t miss her afterword. Click here to buy it from Amazon: Kitchen (A Black cat book)

I also really like her short story collection Lizard. One story in that, about magical meetings on the subway, was originally serialized in subway posters! Click here to buy that from Amazon: Lizard

Asleep, the one I just read, is a collection of three novellas about love and loss and sleep.

"Night and Night’s Travelers" is about three young women who loved the same man, one platonically (his sister) and two romantically (his former lover, an American, and his cousin.) His sister and cousin try to help each other through their grief after his death, and his American ex-girlfriend hovers around the edges of the story, in recollections, letters, and mysterious phone calls.

In "Love Songs," a young woman is haunted by a voice she hears singing to her as she falls asleep. She thinks it’s the voice of a woman she used to know in a complicated relationship halfway between polyamory and a love triangle, and visits a psychic to have one last conversation.

In Asleep, yet another young woman (Yoshimoto’s main characters are almost always young women) is in love with a man whose wife is in a vegetative state after an accident, and she falls under a spell of sleep herself.

My favorite of these was "Love Songs," though I also liked "Night and Night’s Travelers." I didn’t like "Asleep" as much, largely because the main relationship seemed too dysfunctional to survive. I overall enjoyed the collection, though. Click here to buy it from Amazon: Asleep

Another set of Yoshimoto novellas is Hard Boiled and Hard Luck, the first a ghost story, the second a better take on the themes of "Asleep." I liked them both quite a bit, especially the classically spooky atmosphere of the first. Click here to buy it from Amazon: Hardboiled and Hard Luck
.

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