Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (tr. Megan Backus)

a nutshell: a lonely girl anchors herself to kitchens while navigating a way through traumas, with an incredible frankness of feeling, towards hints of happier times

a line: “if a person hasn’t ever experienced true despair, she grows old never knowing how to evaluate where she is in life; never understanding what joy really is”

an image: the girl and a boy with whom she’s staying both wake at night to find each other in the kitchen, having dreamed the very same mundane sequence of events – it’s described as a miracle and natural at once

a thought: the characters have a wonderful disregard for precision over interrelations – dynamics are unconventional and more real for it

a fact: published in 1988, one of the themes explored in the novel is transgenderism – yet it was only in 2003 that it became legal in Japan for transgender people who’ve gone through sex reassignment surgery to change their legal gender; sterilisation is still required, among many other challenging criteria

 

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