Despite her success, Yoshimoto remains a somewhat down-to-earth and obscure figure. Whenever she appears in public she eschews make-up and dresses simply. She seems impervious to bad reviews. She keeps her personal life guarded, and reveals little about her certified Rolfer husband and son (born in 2003). Instead, she talks about her writing. Each day she takes half an hour to write at her computer, and she says, "I tend to feel guilty because I write these stories almost for fun." She keeps an on-line journal for her English-speaking fans.
Her debut novel, Kitchen, was a phenomenal instant success, with over sixty printings in Japan alone. There have been two films made of the story, a Japanese TV movie and a more widely released version produced in Hong Kong by Yim Ho in 1997. She won the 6th Kaien Newcomer Writers Prize in November 1987, the Umitsubame First Novel Prize, and then the 16th Izumi Kyoka Literary Prize in January 1988 for Kitchen.
Critics think that much of her work is superficial and commercial; her fans however, think it perfectly captures what it means to be young and frustrated in modern Japan. Yoshimoto herself identifies her two main themes as "the exhaustion of young people in contemporary Japan" and "the way in which terrible experiences shape a person's life." Her novels can be fun and escapist, but are always touched with traditional Japanese ideology. Her writing can be quite piercing, haunting, poignant, and darkly humorous all at once. Though critics believe her to be "lightweight," Yoshimoto unabashedly states that she aims to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.
Her works include 12 novels and seven collections of essays (including Pineapple Pudding and Song From Banana) which have together sold over six million copies worldwide. Her themes include love and friendship, the power of home and family, and the effect of loss on the human spirit.
|Hardboiled & Hard Luck||1999||2005|
Explorations of Eastern promise ; Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! By Kenzaburo Oe, translated by John Nathan. Atlantic Books, 259 pp. (pounds) 12.99 sterlingGoodbye Tsugami. By Banana Yoshimoto. Faber and Faber, 186 pp. (pounds) 9.99 sterlingSamurai William, the Adventurer Who Unlocked Japan. By Giles Milton. Hodder & Stoughton, 400 pp. (pounds) 14.99 sterling
Sep 07, 2002; Surprisingly, Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe's works have been slow to be translated into English. This "new" novel was...