Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 28, 2011
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“The place I like best in this world is the kitchen. No matter where it is, no matter what kind, if it’s a kitchen, if it’s a place where they make food, it’s fine with me.”
Loss and love delicately interlace in this tale of overcoming tragedy. Alone in her kitchen, Mikage Sakurai is bereft of all family. After the death of her grandmother, Mikage found sleep only on the starlit tiles of the immaculate kitchen, pristine and deathly silent. During the day, she drifted listlessly, languid after the realization that she is not bound by blood to any other being. The terrifying loneliness froze Mikage, until the Tanabes took her in.
Meeting the Tanabes was more than simply an encounter. The Tanabes gave her warmth, tranquility, room for thought, and best of all, a wonderful kitchen. Mikage’s love for the kitchen brings her to come to terms with the past, and to fall in love with life.
Deceptively simple language lets Mikage’s honest, lucid emotions enchant readers with the complex fragility of life. Even a girl, a girl whose cooking experiences exist only with the four walls of a microwave, can identify with the wish to belong somewhere with someone. Joy in life comes from the trinkets and trifles, and the love which people give so compassionately, as proven with the strangers who become Mikage’s family.
The author touches the delicate subject of transsexuality when Mikage describes Eriko Tanabe as stunning, absolutely beautiful. Even though Eriko went through plastic surgery, her appearance cannot hide the charm, warmth, and strength of a true woman.
When Mikage lost her grandmother, Yuichi Tanabe came to the funeral. He cried more than Mikage did. When Mikage stumbled from day to day, weighed by immense sorrow and loneliness, Yuichi Tanabe invites her to live with his family. When Eriko died, Mikage comforted Yuichi. The two orphans find solace in each other’s warmth.
The amazing people illustrated in this novella give me hope for mankind. Each character’s ability to love and inner strength help them form bonds with each other and overcome pain.
“Right now I am here with this powerful mother, this boy with the gentle eyes. That was all that mattered.”





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