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Asleep

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  8,613 ratings  ·  607 reviews
Banana Yoshimoto has a magical ability to animate the lives of her young characters, and here she spins the stories of three women, all bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning a lost lover, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, who has embarked on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake. A third finds h ...more
Paperback, 177 pages
Published September 3rd 2001 by Faber & Faber (first published 1989)
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shannon pulusan i read asleep and thought the same thing. but you have to note that cousin marriage isn't seen as incestuous in japan. however, mari's family's negati…morei read asleep and thought the same thing. but you have to note that cousin marriage isn't seen as incestuous in japan. however, mari's family's negative reaction to their relationship made me think otherwise for a moment. (less)

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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Jr Bacdayan
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Close your eyes. Listen to your slow breathing. Inhale. Exhale. A small pull in your mind is telling you not to open your eyes anymore. Maybe lie down, take a break, relax a little. You are tired, rest for a while. You feel an entrancing call. It’s a small tug, but it is very compelling, even enchanting, and before you know it you are asleep. Resting, recharging, but now defenseless, powerless. Vulnerable to your own unconscious with its own unpredictable will to never give up control to your co ...more
Zanna
I find Banana Yoshimoto's style so distinctive, full of feelings and sensations expressed with touching openness, so unassuming and informal. Under this limpid surface, as under the millpond skin of fairytale, meanings proliferate like living fishes, flickering in and out of view. The story is gifted to the reader with humble generosity; I have this for you, the giver says, and what you'll use it for isn't up to me.

There are some moments when corroborations give the little narratives what feels
...more
Caroline
3.5 out of 5

AFTER reading Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (cutest name ever) I was really looking forward to reading more by her. I didn't enjoy this book quite as much but it was still fun to read. She writes of contemporary life but also dips into magical realism. The book follows three different women who are bewitched in some way into a spiritual sleep- one finds herself sleepwalking at night, one finds her sleep haunted by the ghost of a woman whom she was once pitted against in a love triangle
...more
Paltia
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three stories that tell of young women who are waiting. They wait for whatever they believe will make everything all right in their worlds. Sometimes sleep helps them wait. The various states of slumber are both mysterious and magical. They all wait to hear the still small voice within that announces it’s okay, you may stop waiting and awaken to life. Each character looks for a way to remain calm and find their peace while dealing with guilt, ghosts and loss. They are at home in the world of vis ...more
Angela
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-authors
I don't really know what to say about Asleep. It was my first Banana Yoshimoto book and while I didn't dislike it, I didn't necesarily find anything in particular to like about it.

It was weird in that way that Japanese literature is usually weird, and usually I'm okay with that. Asleep consists of three short stories (or maybe novellas?) and none of them really have any ending to them. Normally, I'm okay with the ambiguous ending that Japanese authors like so much, but having three stories back
...more
Phoenix2
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: japanese short stories loss
Shelves: japanese
Asleep had some good stories. I especially enjoyed the first two. However, I've found all of them a little pointless. The theme about loss and how different characters dealed with it was interesting. However, we didn't get to see much of the characters' stories, personalities, past and life. We just get a glimpse of it. Plus, at times, it was kind of boring to read, as you can guess that the story is going nowhere. Still, it was a nice read.
Vanessa
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is probably my favourite of the three Banana Yoshimoto books I've read so far. Asleep contains three short stories that all feature sleep (or the lack of it) in some way, and also carry similar themes of death/loss and love. Yoshimoto's writing has that familiar quality that I've noticed contemporary Japanese literature often has, a very minimal approach that is at the same time wildly evocative. Yoshimoto's is some of the best I've read in a while though, and her prose surrounded me like a ...more
Steven Godin
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: japan, fiction

Asleep, yes, this almost sent me to sleep.

Too weird for my taste buds.
Malcolm
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Much of Yoshimoto’s work is characterised by pathos, sadness, emptiness and yearning in the sense that many of her characters seem to be missing something or someone, searching or somehow slightly incomplete. She continues this theme-among-the-young in these three novellas (according to the marketing blurb) or long short stories (I remain unclear exactly what a novella might be) about young women – all, it seems, in their early- to mid-20s – dealing with loss and sacrifice over which they have l ...more
Ursula Florene
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What distinguish Japanese writers from other countries'? That lingering emptiness in your heart once the book reaches its final page.

And Asleep is one of them. My encounter with Banana Yoshimoto's work happened years ago; when I found out my lecturer was the book translator-editor. Well, not Asleep but Kitchen ; which also bring Yoshimoto's name to international reader.

At that time, I was EXTREMELY familiar with Murakami's work and literally linked all Japanese literature to his. In my mind
...more
Zuzia
Aug 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jordan
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
“...it was also that recently I’d been settling into a sleep so profound that, ever time I woke, It was like I’d die and was just returning to life—-I could almost believe that, and sometimes it even occurs to me that if I were able to look at myself what I slept, all I’d see would be my perfectly white bones, nothing else.”

Banana Yoshimoto’s Asleep was the perfect book to get me out of my reading slump last week. the writing was refreshing, as was the subject. i can’t wait to read more of her w
...more
Timothy Hallinan
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Three amazing stories -- novellas, really -- about women and sleep -- sleepwalking, sleeplessness, and haunted sleep. Yoshimoto has one of the most delicate touches in fiction, layering implications and textures into dream landscapes that don't resemble the work of any other writer I know, although this particular book has been compared to Haruki Murakami. But Yoshimoto is her own writer.
Callum McAllister
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh yes yes yes. Ghosts & guilt. No grandparents that I remember but it's got two of the three best G's.

And grief!

...more
Matt
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
With a synopsis that promises fantastical elements of plot, it's best not to come into this book expecting Murakami levels of surrealism. This "novel" could better be described as 3 thematically-connected novellas, as none of their plots intersect, and their only connections are the shared meditations on death, loss, and sleep.

Banana Yoshimoto's writing is great though, simple but expressive. No use of complex metaphors here, but she knows how to maintain a slow-burn in describing the sad lives
...more
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Three melancholy tales about the lonely interior lives of women who live lives outside convention. Yoshimoto has a distinctive voice throughout them all, capturing the frustrated ambition and listlessness that grief can bring with it. Full review to come.
Andrew
So this is typical Banana Yoshimoto fare... fluffy and dreamy, all revolving around the themes of sleep (or lack thereof). I can't say that it's anything groundbreaking, but I like her style in general, and this was a distracting enough read. The only problem is that, given how fluffy it was, it became rather hard for me to get invested, especially given the hectic week I've had. Hell, I'm struggling to even think of something much to say. I'll save each story for later, for a time when I can fo ...more
Jasmine
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a sleep disorder and I saw myself in the last story. I loved the journey each character went on as sleep and grief intertwined.

This trio ended perfectly, with hope. I'm excited to read more by this author.
Liviu
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
3 novellas dealing with haunted sleep by the death of a friend/lover - all written in the first person narration by a young woman, though she is not always the haunted one

the first novella Night and Night's Travelers is superb and among the best shorter (~65 pages) pieces of fiction I've ever read; the narrator here is Shibami - currently a university student - who mourns for her older brother Yoshihiro who had died a while ago in a car accident; popular with women, Yoshihiro is ultimately attra
...more
Vonia
Asleep tells the stories of three women, all bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning a lost love, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, embarking on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself unable to stay awake. The third finds her sleep haunted.

I tire a little of saying the same thing every single time I read a Banana Yoshimoto book. (I am proud to name this my sixth!) I read this right after "Kitchen", and they are both equally beautiful, obviously from
...more
Mark
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
moody flighty woman talks about herself and weird people in her life. 3 stories in one book. this is the second time i've read this book. if you like weird stuff and weird people read Banana Yoshimoto. For example ... "I felt like I'd just woken up a moment ago, and everything looked so clear and beautiful it was frightening. Everything really was gorgeous. Those crowds of people walking through the night, the light from the paper lanterns dotting the arcade, the line of my boyfriends forehead a ...more
Plainqoma
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Beautifully sad and lonely yet at the same time it will haunt you. The stories rich with emotional states of the main characters. I adore the way she conveys her stories from past, future to present without making the readers confused.

" I really fall for that kind of thing, for good manners. I have this feeling that people like that never do anything truly awful to anyone else. "
Zibbi (ibadlyneedaread)


I used to buy every Asian author’s work on a first-dibs online bookstore. Every Sunday, the seller will post the items available at 8 PM sharp. The first to respond ‘Accio!’ will have the book reserved under their name. Anything by Haruki Murakami’s and Banana Yoshimoto’s is popular and rapidly ‘Accio-ed’ away. It took weeks, months and a lot of sprint typing to get a copy. After almost two years of collecting dust in my shelf, I mustered the courage to pick it up for reading.

The book is a colle
...more
Katarina
These three stories are really all the same story, but told with different plots and characters. They are about women who are in relationships with men, however these are somewhat distant, dispassionate, shallow; whereas they have strong emotional and physical connections with a particular woman in their life. This connection is seen as platonic, or flippantly referred to as "a bit of a lesbian thing", however the love the protagonists obviously feel for these other women is ultimately the most ...more
Matt
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t enjoy this as a whole as much as I did “Kitchen”, though that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. It is three short stories compiled into one collection with “Asleep” being the third. Of the three, “Asleep” might actually have been my least favorite. I really loved “Night and Night’s Travelers”, the first story, and rather enjoyed “Love Songs”, the second story. That being said, much like with “Kitchen”, I’ve not read many authors who can make the mundane aspects of life sing with such an a ...more
Cătălin
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just like Kitchen, this book is filled to the brim with depression, loss, and loneliness. Looking back now, when I read Kitchen, I couldn't really appreciate its beauty because I wasn't in the right mindset. But these past weeks I felt in the right mood for Banana Yoshimoto's book. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories, especially the first, and the second ones.

"...suddenly I started feeling like the Cheshire cat, as if there were nothing left of me now but my grinning face, hanging there in the dark
...more
Pragya
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, japan, 2019
3.5 stars
Miriam Cihodariu
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
A lovely collection of short stories about the barely-just magical touch of sleep. Three women have a special relationship with it and weave their lives around it, in dreamy, strange or frightening ways.

There's a touch of the extraordinary in each of the stories; you feel that maybe just after this page the strangeness will take a more decisive form and the author will finally hint that something bears a supernatural quality, just like you were beginning to suspect. But the reveal you feel is c
...more
Shāfiya Mū
Asleep is an #OwnVoices Japanese literature novel that’s a part of the magical realism genre. It’s also a small collection of three short stories written by Banana Yoshimoto, who’s a female author.

The first two stories were very interesting to me and I enjoyed them immensely. The third story, which is the title story, did not appeal to me at all once I began reading it. In this post, you can find mini-reviews for each story with their ratings, as well as my overall rating for the book as a w
...more
MJ
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Asleep is actually three thematically related stories dealing with death, love, and yes, sleep.

In “Night and Night’s Travelers,” Shibami and her family deal with the aftermath of her brother’s death. This is the only story in which the narrator is not also our sleeper. Instead, Shibami serves as the link between two of her brother’s former lovers. Sarah is an American exchange student who had a relationship with Yoshihiro both in Japan and back in Boston. Mari is a cousin who realized she and Yo
...more
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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).)

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 liberal family, she learned the value of independence from a young age.

She gradua
...more

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