The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

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A major literary sensation is back with a quietly stunning tour de force about the redemptive power of love.

While The Lake shows off many of the features that have made Banana Yoshimoto famous—a cast of vivid and quirky characters, simple yet nuanced prose, a tight plot with an upbeat pace—it’s also one of the most darkly mysterious books she’s ever written.

It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though ... until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too.

They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he has been the victim of some form of childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together a series of clues that lead her to suspect his experience may have had something to do with a bizarre secret from his past. . . .

With echoes of real life events, such as the Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system) and the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korea, The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written. And as the two young lovers overcome their troubled past to discover hope in the beautiful solitude of the lake in the countryside, it’s also one of her most moving.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Banana Yoshimoto

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Banana Yoshimoto, 1964 - Novelist Banana Yoshimoto was born Mahoko Yoshimoto on July 24, 1964 in Tokyo, Japan. She is the daughter of poet and commentator Yoshimoto Ryumei, who had an impact on the radical student movement of the late 1960's. She attended Tokyo's Nihon University, where she studied creative writing and won a faculty award for her 1987 graduation novel "Moonlight Shadow." While working as a waitress, she took moments out of her day to write a novel and, at the age of 24, the result was "Kitchen" (1988), which is the story of a lonely woman who moves her bed into the kitchen, finding comfort in the humming of the refrigerator. She also wrote "Pineapple Pudding" and "Fruit Basket," which were both bestsellers. Her novel "Lizard" was dedicated to the memory of the late rocker Kurt Cobain and the novel "Long Night of Marika/Bali Dream Diary" (1996) was considered a flop. MICHAEL EMMERICH graduated from Princeton University. After completing research in Japanese literature studies at Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Columbia University. He is the highly acclaimed translator of Nobel laureate Yasunari KawabatasFirst Snow on Fuji; Banana Yoshimotos Asleep, Goodbye Tsugumi and Hardboiled & Hard Luck; Genichiro Takahashis Sayonara Gangsters; Mari Akasakas Vibrator; and Taichi Yamadas In Search of a Distant Voice.
Published May 3, 2011 by Melville House. 194 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Lake

Kirkus Reviews

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The narrator and her lover bond in a way that isn’t necessarily sexual and not exactly spiritual, but more “as if we were clinging to each other, he and I, at the edge of a cliff.” At one point the narrator feels like she is “inhabiting someone else’s dream,” which is the sort of effect the rea...

Mar 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Lake

Publishers Weekly

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A student in an advanced program of genetics, he hints at terrible secrets in his childhood, which are gradually revealed after the two visit Nakajima's very strange friends in the countryside, and it's revealed that Nakajima had been kidnapped as a boy by a cult and brainwashed.

Mar 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Lake

BC Books

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And there is Chihiro, a seemingly shallow drifter in her goals and her personal life, yet able to find love and inspiration where others would not look.

Dec 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Lake

BC Books

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As the trust builds, Nakajima asks Chihiro to accompany him to The Lake of the title, where friends of his, apparently tied to Nakajima’s tragic past, live.

Dec 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Lake

We Love This Book

But as the story progresses it becomes clear that Nakajima has suffered an additional terrible trauma in his childhood, and his story starts to unfold as the two of them take a trip to the lake where Nakajima used to live with his mother.

Mar 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Lake

The New Yorker

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Jun 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Lake

Publishing Perspective

The Lake, the latest novel by well-known Japanese novelist Banana Yoshimoto, is an enigmatic love story told from the first-person perspective of Chihiro, a muralist and “going on thirty” daughter of unmarried parents.

Jun 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Lake

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