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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  5,759 ratings  ·  363 reviews
In these six stories, the author of Goodbye Tsugumi and N.P. explores themes of time, healing and fate, and how her urban, sophisticated, independent young men and women come to terms with them. The stories are a blend of traditional Japanese and contemporary popular culture.
Paperback, 180 pages
Published August 31st 2001 by Faber & Faber (first published April 20th 1993)
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Ayushi You can start with this book! It's a collection of stories and every story has a theme to it. Very engaging and enlightening! However, 'Kitchen' is de…moreYou can start with this book! It's a collection of stories and every story has a theme to it. Very engaging and enlightening! However, 'Kitchen' is definitely the best of all her works. But you can go with this one for starters.(less)

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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,759 ratings  ·  363 reviews

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Fiona MacDonald
I can never tell if short stories are better when they have a beginning, middle and end like a full length novel, or if they are more powerful as little snippets of someone's life that don't actually 'end' per se.
Yoshimoto's short stories fall into the latter - they are moments/snapshots of lives that you dip in and out of, that have no beginning or end. They are beautifully written, with wonderous, lyrical moments and innocent delight. I know short stories are usually best read one per sitting,
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Yes and no and yes and no... I was concerned about the apparent trendiness of this author, and not without reason. I was attracted to Yoshimoto by critics' comparisons to Murakami and others. She has very little indeed to do with Murakami, though there is a certain, unusual coexistence of distance and involvement, bearing a resemblance to Murakami's narrators, that I sensed in Yoshimoto's as well. I was very disappointed in nearly all the stories in this volume; I found them "lite." However, aft ...more
Not bad, but it took a lot of effort reading it in Japanese so I was only half into it.
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5 stars but rounded up on the higher side because I’m impressed by how tightly connected the six stories in this collection are thematically. The stories are about young urban characters in contemporary Tokyo having a sort of existential awakening. Most of them had a difficult (some really traumatic) childhood, and now as adults they are trying to set out on their own, carve their own life and self. But they figure out their independence not in solitude but with the help of companionship, like ...more
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: transleighteen
There’s something very sparse about these stories and I like that, there’s no over the top passion in the relationships. It’s even hard to work out what sex the narrator is and sometimes it felt like I had been reading it in the wrong voice, if that makes any sense. One of these stores was serialised on public transport, that must make commuting more interesting and I can’t imagine that happening here.
Moira Elise
May 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: xmas
I love Yoshimoto’s quiet, detached and introspective characters. Her writing has really improved since 1994 but you still see the same depth of feeling in these short stories.
May 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, asian
Reading this small book takes about as long as watching a movie and is a bit more satisfying but also frustrating. You can tell the author was only in her 20s when she wrote these stories. Most of the real trauma happens to these characters’ parents so they’re less aware of the impact of their own thinking and actions. The characters are at the stage where they begin to see that there may be more to their lives than what’s on the surface but they can’t quite grasp what yet. In the title story, L ...more
Patrick Sherriff
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
"The voice of young Japan," the blurb from the Independent on Sunday proclaims on the front of the book. And I suppose the collection of stories was that, circa 1995. That Ms Yoshimoto is now pushing 60 and the IoS is no more, just adds a little sense of how time passes and things change, or don't. But anyway, here we have a good collection of tales of 20 and 30 somethings still finding their place in the world and in Tokyo, coming to terms with their parents' inadequacies and their own hangups. ...more
Banana Yoshimoto has a way with words that is unique, even from her Japanese colleagues. All her novels, short stories, and other writings have an extremely dreamlike quality, transporting, suspending the reader in whatever other world she has created with her characters. Magical realism plays an integral role, but she is always able to maintain the integrity of a moving story. Reading anything by her, however short, is an experience, and a full sensual experience at that. She ingenuously gives ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost tasteless combination of trash-mag cover stories ("I lost my voice when Mum was stabbed my a home invader! ", "I used to be a sex addict and now I'm married to the heir of a company fortune! "), with "the feelings of disorientation, apprehension and uncertainly that accompany most attempts at sorting out one's own emotional baggage, as well as the feelings of liberation that some people have at crucial times in their lives" (author).
This is uncommonly pragmatic. There is grief but the cha
Kyle Muntz
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Easily the worst thing I've read from Yoshimoto. It's not bad exactly, but there's nothing to make it stand out from her other work, and a lot of things missing: no sense of time, no developed secondary characters, not a lot of scene (the stories are mostly narrators disconnectedly remembering their lives), and the few times the stories seemed they were going into new territory they were thin and unsatisfying. So yeah, I'm glad she never turned any of these into a longer piece. Probably the only ...more
Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Lizard is the third release by Banana Yoshimoto. It is a collection of short stories. My first impression was that these are very bizarre stories. Everybody is pretty much messed up. However, I thought that there wasn't much character development since these were only short stories. "Lizard" and "A Strange Tale By The River" were pretty good, though. Banana focused more on Buddhist type faith and spirituality more than anything else. These souls aren't lost to the darkness of nothingness but rat ...more
Morgan Thomas
For some reason every time I read a Banana Yoshimoto novel (this is my second) I expect something sinister to happen. Someone to die, a cheating spouse, some disturbing plot twist or extreme moment of violence (and I think this speaks more about me and my expectations than the author's writing). But I never get it. Instead I get the slow contemplation of someone's deep inner life. The affects on us as adults of trauma from our young lives and how it shapes us, especially the relationships we hav ...more
Jun 17, 2016 added it
fascinatingly weird collection of short stories, relationships and healing?
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Her writing is so soothing and I love that there’s always bisexual ladies in her books.
“This town breathes in all the universes that people in this city have in their heads.”

(from “Newlywed”)


“The river possesses the force to guide fate. I think that nature, buildings, and mountain ranges have some effect on our lives. Everything is intertwined and linked together, and within that mass of forces I have survived, and will live on, not because of anything I’ve decided. With that realization, I suddenly felt something shining within me.”

(from “A Strange Tale from Down by the River”)
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
holy SHIT these stories are absolutely stunning
Geoffrey Whitehall
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Collection of short stories which I really enjoyed. We learnt at school that Churchill said 'hope is not a strategy' & you need plans in life. However, my late-father taught us (his kids) that 'hope' alongside 'dignity' are critical words for humanity. This book reminded me that my father was right! It is all about hope and the wonderful power of companionship. ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Banana Yoshimoto's Lizard is a collection of short stories, each focused on how we create hope and purpose in our lives,and find the path we want to walk as individuals in a busy, modern world. Newlywed tells the story of a young man, who encounters something phenomenal while fighting the urge to escape the responsibility a newly wedded life, Lizard the story of a couple reconciling with troubling pasts. Helix also discusses commitment from the perspective of a young writer, Dreaming of Kimchee ...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book that I have read by Banana Yoshimoto, the first being Kitchen, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
This is a collection of short stories, and I really breezed through it very quickly. Her writing style is almost effortless, yet upon closer examination one can always find deeper meaning: it is by no means shallow or superficial. In addition all of the stories she tells are absolutely fascinating, and the always have so many layers, that by the time you get to the end of the story,
Jeridel Banks
May 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Banana Yoshimoto's books are filled with surreal images, personal interactions, and drama contained in a shell of a book. Lizard--a collection of short stories--is not this book. Unlike Kitchen, N.P., and Asleep, Lizard lacks character development, story development, and climax. In each story, Yoshimoto tells you the story rather than allowing you to experience the story. It feels closer to a teenager's journal: not believable and not memorable.

If you like Yoshimoto's books, you can skip Lizard
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I read this book yesterday. I thought it would be a light read, since it was a six short stories compilation from Banana. Well, I was wrong. the book got me thinking a lot, and i think the stories fit the 'karma' and 'spiritual' themes Banana inspires very well.

My best bet is the last short story: A Strange River from Down the River. I find it relaxing, deep but also complicated. However, I still prefer her novels to her short stories.
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, asian
Yoshimoto is often compared with Murakami for certain reasons I couldn't grasp (except for the fact that they are of course both Japanese0. Murakami has a crazier take on surreal/ magic realism, while Yoshimoto is more focused on the subtleties of simple (but nonetheless insightful)human interactions and observations. Yoshimoto's modesty in Lizard leaves me quite unsatisfied. Maybe it was a cultural thing; Japanese culture has many subtle elements that cannot be translated to English.
Susanne M
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this collection of short stories in the original Japanese, I instantly fell in love with the author's surreal, meditative style of writing. Found the English translation just as captivating. All five stories in the collection, bearing the common theme of spiritual awakening and self-discovery with deeply reflective characters, are beautiful and touching, and left me feeling warm and optimistic in the end.
Julia Throness
This was... I guess as disappointing as Japanese lit can get for me. Which means it’s still better than every other book, but it just lacked some content. It was pretty and the stories bled into each other beautifully and it certainly captured some kind of TRANSCENDENT MOOD. but it was also like..... uh ok let’s move on now! What did we learn? NOTHING!
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
An enjoyable collection. A quick read. Cool clear waters. Bright blue skies. Banana is the writer who signs out of her own afterword with a gleeful "I'm on my way to a Sonic Youth concert!" I can appreciate that.
Elena Varg
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I love Yoshimoto's way of exploring different aspects of settings and characters: everyone of them feel so alive and are unique. I also love the way she puts tiny bits of unnatural and fantasy in each of her stories.
Jan 10, 2009 marked it as to-read
I forgot about Banana Yoshimoto! Must keep reading Banana!
Richard Janzen
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short simple stories with a touch of magical realism. Quite enjoyable.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yoshimoto has a wonderful flow to her prose. I could seriously read her all day. The narrative voices are interesting and different. I'll definitely be checking out her other work at some point soon.
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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

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“Your love is different from mine. What I mean is, when you close your eyes, for that moment, the center of the universe comes to reside within you. And you become a small figure within that vastness, which spreads without limit behind you, and continues to expand at tremendous speed, to engulf all of my past, even before I was born, and every word I've ever written, and each view I've seen, and all the constellations, and the darkness of outer space that surrounds the small blue ball that is earth. Then, when you open your eyes, all that disappears.
I anticipate the next time you are troubled and must close your eyes again.
The way we think may be completely different, but you and I are an ancient, archetypal couple, the original man and woman. We are the model for Adam and Eve. For all couples in love, there comes a moment when a man gazes at a woman with the very same kind of realization. It is an infinite helix, the dance of two souls resonating, like the twist of DNA, like the vast universe.

Oddly, at that moment, she looked over at me and smiled. As if in response to what I'd been thinking, she said, "That was beautiful. I'll never forget it.”
“At that moment, I was truly without words. I realized that the world didn't exist by virtue of my mind. On the contrary, he and I and everyone else were swept up in a great whirlpool, swirling around constantly and not knowing where we're bound. Our sensations of pleasure and suffering, our thoughts, none of these things can stop the motion. For the first time, I was able to step away from my imagined position in the center of the universe and see myself as part of something larger. This was my revelation, and I now felt--what? Not particularly happy or sad, but just a bit precarious, as if I'd relaxed some muscle that I hadn't needed to use all along.” 9 likes
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