Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lake” as Want to Read:
The Lake
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lake

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  3,310 ratings  ·  433 reviews
A major literary sensation is back with a quietly stunning tour de force.

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 T
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Melville House (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lake, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Lake

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
May 17, 2011 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: you'd never cry to them just to your soul
Recommended to Mariel by: big in Japan
It has been years since a new Banana Yoshimoto has been in my hands- 2006! Yeah, so I became a fan in 2004 and read all of her translated works in a couple of months. Back to back like snug little bookends. I was so happy reading her books and living in those pages. I feel the most at ease with the world and myself in that world when I'm completely into books. The best are those that I'm so into that I forget to talk to anyone at all. If I can keep going I never have to look down and remember I' ...more
May 10, 2013 Dolors rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like poetic short stories
Recommended to Dolors by: Aitor
Shelves: read-in-2013
Life is merciless, it can bring random injustice upon us, sucking out our last breath of willpower, inflicting insurmountable damage. But sometimes it is also capricious and chooses to give hope to the hopeless, eyesight to the blind, atonement for the victims.
Chihiro and Nakajima cross paths on an unremarkable day when looking out of their respective windows they find their glances colliding with each other. They start engaging in silent, hesitant conversations, full of dubious smiles, nods and
Paquita Maria Sanchez
It should not take two weeks to read a book that's less than 200 pages long, but I literally kept falling asleep. It's kinda cute, kinda purdy, mostly boring, at times wise-ish, and sporadically gratingly twee, with a nice ghostly sheen of mystery culminating in a reveal that feels - after all the tea getting slowly sipped and paint getting softly brushed and steps being gently taken and empty space being contemplatively stared into* on our crawl to the finish line - like a Hollywood action sequ ...more
(review #9 for CCLaP!)


I didn't, luckily, so I was able to experience it as written, as a slow build, a soft, sad, slight mystery, with all the hidden things left hidden, or at least obscured, until they were meant to be revealed. I can't believe Melville House wasn't smart enough to realize that you can't give away the big twist in huge blue letters right there at the top of the blurb. What a massive disservice to Banana.

Ah, Banana. I've loved her for a lo
It’s hard to summarize this novella-length story without giving too much away. In fact, I’d recommend against reading the marketing copy, since it spoils the one and only surprise in the book. It’s best described as a stilted and intensely awkward meet-cute, I guess. Introspective young woman notices odd neighbor, and almost despite herself, begins to reach out to him and draw him out of his shell. They begin a fragile romance as she gets closer to the truth of his ethereal weirdness, and both o ...more
Jaclyn Michelle

It was this blurb on The Millions about Yoshimoto's The Lake being shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize that prompted me to pick it up:

"The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto: She’s big in Japan, inspiring a cult following and selling upwards of six million novels, but Banana Yoshimoto will always polarise opinion. Critics may be tempted to call her Murakami-lite, given her fondness for the same kind of broad subjects as her heavyweight compatriot – ultra-mo
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

It's pure coincidence that Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto started having her first American successes in the same early-'90s years when I myself first quit photography and started writing (and even further coincidence that one of the people in the writing workshop I belonged to at the time had a fetish f
Bach Tran Quang
Chuyện này đáng ra thì được 3 sao, nhưng vì cái cách nhân vật nữ chính gọi nhân vật nam chính là "hắn" khiến tôi đành cho điểm thấp. Tôi không hiểu lắm cái dụng ý của dịch giả, hoặc tác giả khi để một người đầu gối tay ấp gọi người kia là "hắn" - một từ thường đi liền với cái gì đó xấu xa không tốt đẹp. Và làm tôi cứ thắc mắc mãi cho đến trang cuối cùng.

Hồ gồm 2 mạch truyện. 1 về Chihiro, 1 về Nakajima. Nói chung là rời rạc lung tung. Không ăn nhập gì vào nhau. Có một chi tiết rất tình là 2 nhân
Lolly LKH
I have read comments that Yoshimoto's writing doesn't flow right, reads strange and some think it's due to something lost in translation. I am sure, having lived in Japan (still do actually) and understanding English is far different, that it does cheat us of something but certainly not to the point that the novels aren't great. I believe, even in Japanese, that it is strange writing, as it has an esoteric flavoring. There is always an element of the mystical and this is where her work stands ap ...more
A veces no se nos da opción. Lo prácticamente roto cae en nuestras manos y no podemos apartar la mirada. No podemos cerrar la puerta. No podemos cocinar espaguetis con el propósito de que aquello que nos demanda atención acabe por cansarse y se marche. A veces, no.

Y este 'El Lago' es una de esas veces.

El milagro de algo que se sostiene en pie con el único fin de agarrarse a nosotros antes de tropezar y caer para siempre. La necesidad humana de proteger lo hermoso de la vulgaridad del mundo que
Warning: Do not read the Goodreads description. Too much info big-time! I will not indulge in any spoilers.

There's something about Banana Yoshimoto. Her prose is as light as a feather yet the emotions behind them are deep and profound. The casualness of her writing can be deceiving. That, her simplicity of style, and her immense popularity are probable reasons why an unnamed Nobel committee member, when asked if Yoshimoto had a chance at the Nobel prize for Literature, replied, "She's dreaming."
Mar 29, 2014 Gabriela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gabriela by: Noémi Balási
Shelves: nook, book-club, japanese
*revised* After a very thorough analysis during the book club session, this booked proved a lot more than it had led to be. It is essentially full of symbols that we discovered during our discussion, amazing context to be deciphered and re-thought in detail. I revise my rating from 3 to 4 stars. And I promise hereby to read The Kitchen :)

*first edit below*

I wish I hadn't read about the book before starting it. Though lately I am always doing it , just to make sure I choose something very good. A
Si hay algo de lo que me siento muy feliz, es de saber que hay una autora ahí afuera que me habla. Banana Yoshimoto no se destaca por sus grandes historias, ni libros interesantes, ella hace libros llenos de vida, serenidad, nostalgia, reflexión; no pasa nada, pero sientes.

El Lago es creo, el libro de Yoshimoto que más me ha hecho sentir. No sé si se trata de un episodio en mi vida, pero la yo de este momento se conmovió hasta las lágrimas del sentir de sus protagonistas. La narración siempre es
Timothy Hallinan
I actually thought I'd already written about this, but it seems to have fallen off my shelves.

Yoshimoto is one of my eight or ten favorite living novelists. Among her gifts are absolutely perfect emotional pitch; the ability to create characters who manage to suggest much more than they reveal, without the reader's losing patience with them; and a deep respect for mystery and the fact that we so rarely in our lives fully understand anything.

Dislocated girl meets dislocated boy in Tokyo, first gl
I've read some excellent reviews for books written by Banana Yoshimoto, so I wanted to experience this author for myself. It was a different experience, but not an unpleasant one.

Chihiro is a 30-something Japanese woman whose mother had recently died. Chihiro's father was a Tokyo businessman, and son of rich, prominent parents. The kind of parents who would not have approved of a marriage between the two. Chihiro sees her mothers death in some ways as a blessing, but then she has not had time to
Edward Rathke
This isn't necessarily a bad book, so the two star rating is more to the effect that it's derivative and has been done better, even done better by Japanese writers. Oh, too, before I forget, don't read the synopsis before you finish the book or the whole book is kind of--not ruined--lessened.

It's the story of a girl who's a bit unusual, a bit of an outsider, who meets another unique soul--who is deeply damaged by an unspeakable past--by a sort of coincidence, and what follows is the strange tal
"I had a habit of standing at my window, looking out, and so did Nakajima, so we noticed each other, and before long we started exchanging nods." Chihiro tells the story about how she met Nakajima, a fragile, brilliant student doing research in genetics. Chihiro, a muralist, had recently moved to Tokyo and was mouning the death of her mother. Chirhiro's mother was an unmarried bar owner and her father's family had never accepted their daughter. Chihiro and Nakajima had a common bond of experienc ...more
Mark Staniforth
Banana Yoshimoto is big in Japan. Her mostly modern fables of love and loss - of which The Lake is her twelfth - have acquired a cult following, and sold upwards of six million copies.
Those familiar with Yoshimoto's previous work will presumably be unsurprised by her latest offering. 'The Lake' is a slim, fragile story revolving around the relationship between two young Japanese students, Chihiro and Nakajima.
Chihiro has recently lost her mother: the first line of the novel reads: 'The first tim
If you're already interested in this one, read as little as possible about it. Several of the descriptions and reviews include major spoilers, things I wish I hadn't known going in.

I don't often enjoy this type of book. It's got fairly basic prose, a dreamy feel, and a tightly focused viewpoint. There's a definite story here, but it's more about thoughts and feelings and perspective and relationships. I was never exactly comfortable with the main character, but she had an interesting perspective
This is the first time I've rated her work with 2 stars. I'm not sure what it is that I find lacking, exactly, and maybe that's just me.. because I find this one flat. It doesn't really move forward until the last chapter, and I know Yoshimoto's style is not exactly what you call fast-paced.. but I find this one boring.

I don't particularly care about Chihiro, the main character. I find her selfish and annoying, with her constant complaining and how she feels about her family. I like Mama-san, he
Chad Post
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
juan carlos
Un libro con una prosa delicada y sensible, que te muestra el como seguir luchando por lo que te gusta, mientras te enfrentas a traumas de la infancia, el amor de pareja y los terrores de la sociedad actual. Banana Yosshimoto, de nuevo me vuelve a cautivar con sus frases y un final inesperado :).
"What I felt for him wasn't exactly love, it was closer to a sense of surprise, even shock. And so I just kept watching him, unable to get completely involved."

Ah, that describes not only the tenuous beginning of a romance, but also the way I felt while reading this novel. I wasn't completely engrossed, but the narrator's reflections and ruminations did attract me quite a bit. There was more than one moment when I read something that really clicked with me, and I felt positive that some of the n
Ulla Dalsgård
I found this book boring, but then again I generally don't enjoy the minimalist, simplistic writing style - those books where very little happens, yet of course a lot does happen on an emotional level. I have read good examples of this style, but The Lake is not one of them. The biggest problem was that I never really got to like the main character. She seems somewhat immature and I found her thoughts to be pretty uninspiring, trivial. In addition, the book just doesn't seem that well written to ...more
After reading this I feel like the person who doesn't get the joke and stands there sort of fake laughing and hoping no one will notice. The writing is beautiful. If Yoshimoto's goal was to slip sharp observations of the human condition into some sort of story, she succeeded brilliantly.
When someone tell you something big, it's like your taking money from them, and there's no way it will ever go back to being the way it was. You have to take responsibility for listening.
With that, I did pay car
Beautiful and sad and hopeful. My favorite kind of story.
karo librogénica
será su oscuridad, tan palpable...tan viscosa en su cotidianidad... será el brillo que lucha por iluminar las páginas

este libro es un bello, solitario y peculiar camino hacia la esperanza
Dec 04, 2014 Po rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: love, life
Do mình xa cách Banana 1 thời gian nên dệt mộng hay sao, mà đọc cuốn này không cảm thấy gì hết.
Hay là do dịch ? Hay là do đang bị đơ rồi má ơi T_T
This is a hard book to rate because on the one hand, this book is the first book I've read in a while in which I felt engaged with the story--I wanted to know what happened next, I found the characters and themes presented complex and interesting. And yetttttttttttttttt... it didn't capture me enough to get a 4 or 5 star rating. It's a firm 3.5, but goodreads doesn't let me do half ratings (whyyy??)

What I found fascinating in this story is the juxtaposition between feeling complete freedom and y
May 06, 2012 Alta added it
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto (trans. from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich, Melville House, 2011)

The Lake confirmed the impression I was left with after having read Asleep and N. P.: Yoshimoto is one of those contemporary writers situated at the border between what one could call (for lack of a better word) “serious” literature and pop fiction. The fact that The Lake was better received than N.P. in this country is at least in part due to the fact that its translator, Michael Emmerich, is consid
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: The Lake - Banana Yoshimoto - Dolors 1 4 Oct 14, 2014 02:44PM  
Her mother's death 2 30 Jul 30, 2013 09:27AM  
  • The Diving Pool: Three Novellas
  • The Waiting Years
  • The Gate
  • The Old Capital
  • All She Was Worth
  • The Box Man
  • Popular Hits of the Showa Era
  • The Thief
  • Naomi
  • Villain
  • The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories
  • The Setting Sun
  • The Changeling
  • Be With You
  • Faithful Ruslan
  • The Eighth Day
Banana Yoshimoto (よしもと ばなな or 吉本 ばなな) is the pen name of Mahoko Yoshimoto (吉本 真秀子), a Japanese contemporary writer. She writes her name in hiragana.

See also 吉本芭娜娜 (Chinese).

Yoshimoto, daughter of Takaaki Yoshimoto, was born in Tokyo on July 24, 1964. Along with having a famous father, poet Takaaki Yoshimoto, Banana's sister, Haruno Yoiko, is a well-known cartoonist in Japan. Growing up in a libera
More about Banana Yoshimoto...
Kitchen N.P. Asleep Goodbye Tsugumi Lizard

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“But I have my life, I’m living it. It’s twisted, exhausting, uncertain, and full of guilt, but nonetheless, there’s something there.” 124 likes
“It was so gorgeous it almost felt like sadness.” 65 likes
More quotes…