I’d never seen a flower of banana before I read Pineapple, one of her essays.
“A flower was arranged in that big vase dynamically. I’m happy that kind of strange big thing is existed in this world. Its leaves and also a stalk, are really cool.”
The strange figure we can create or imagine in our minds by this rough sketch is very existence Banana Yoshimoto. Her sentences can be said, in a good sense, dynamic, but in other words, rough or coarse. She always expresses our senses in the immediate way like “great” which all of us feel as the same way. She doesn’t use a redundant rhetoric and a complicated structure of description. Great is great, she writes, and that’s why readers have been impressed by her writing. But for me, that is rather great.
It is true that what she feels great is great for everybody as well. That is the reason why lots of readers have sympathized with her pieces of her writing, and besides, she reminds us with surprise and delight that mundane and brief expressions can move our minds profoundly. When I enjoy her literature which rephrases our daily lives in words everybody can understand, we come to feel that I want to buy cakes for my family on payday or pat my dog’s head in a living room. A primary motif Banana deals with is always ‘family’ invariably.
I have read no other her writing as many times as possible than ‘Night & Night Travelers’ in Asleep which is known as “a trilogy of sleep”. But it is difficult to demonstrate its splendidness. Because – as ardent readers of her have known — when I tell people I like it, all of them frown at me.
This elusive story which is one of her characteristics is developed in the night as a central motif. It is in the night that Marie visits Shibami in her bare feet while snowing or she is wandering round the town. In addition, one day she is sleeping in the shady living room in order to escape from the sunlight or she’s been sleeping remaining half-naked without a heater in the room in which she and her dead boyfriend used to live together……a lot of images concerned to the night are opened to us.
Seigou Matsuoka remarks in Fragile that the author who can abruptly jump up into a completely different dimension which is located at the different altitude is only Banana Yoshimoto and Yumiko Oshima. As she said in her several interviews that she is fond of the state in which reality and unreality are coexisted naturally. She often uses supernatural agents to conclude stories (Asleep), or synchronicity of the mind (in Kitchen, when two protagonists clean the kitchen). They are melted into the daily lives in which people are living, therefore it never gives a false impression to readers.
“Night & Night Travelers” is written in the way we can feel it more realistic, so it might be thought as a familiar piece. However, Bananesque which is common in her earlier work cannot be seen a lot in this piece. If you want to enjoy a sense of her distinctive diction, it’s better to read Kitchen or Amrita in Japanese.