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3.62  ·  Rating details ·  5,141 ratings  ·  362 reviews
A celebrated actress who has died in mysterious and shocking circumstances leaves behind an unconventional extended family that includes an older sister, a woman in her twenties through whose eyes the story unfolds; a young brother who possesses mystical powers; and a fiancé who is writing a novel with uncanny parallels to his own story.
Paperback, 366 pages
Published September 3rd 2001 by Faber & Faber (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,141 ratings  ·  362 reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Kristel
How do you rate a bad book if the author herself apologizes for it? Would you be more considerate with your rating because of the apology? At least, you can say that she has that humility of accepting the fact that what she wrote a "trashy" book.

Honestly, for me, there is almost nothing new or nothing to like in this book. However on the very last page of my edition was an Afterword by the author and she sounded apologetic: "I give my deepest thanks to the one who translated this book, so random
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
The main character of this Yoshimoto book is quite similar to all of her novels: a young, modern Japanese woman who has endured great trauma but manages to keep an open heart to the world despite it. A lot of tragedy besets the particular narrator of this book, Sakumi; before it even begins her father and then sister have passed away and she has had an accident that causes her brain damage. Despite the heavy scene that sets up, this novel is breezy and fantastical. It may be about family and los ...more
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I feel a need to defend this book...I picked it up during a Japanese-authors phase and just couldn't put it down. Some might argue that Yoshimoto's story is too surreal, too fragmented, "too detailed" (as a friend put it).

For me, it was just right. Every other page I felt like underlining a quote. Every sequential chapter, distinctly out of joint with the previous, made me feel like I was floating out in the ether somewhere. The story is supposed to be about the way life turns on itself; the eb
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
An exquisite book about the ebb and flow of a young Japanese woman's life.Although I generally don't like magical realism,I still enjoyed this book.

The title "Amrita" means immortality.Sakumi is a young woman whose sister,an actress commits suicide in scandalous,mysterious circumstances.She herself has had a head injury which results in the loss of her childhood memories.

She is visited by ghosts and receives telepathic messages.Her brother who has mystical powers,predicts an air crash and the ap
Kamila Kunda
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, asia, japan, own
I adore Banana Yoshimoto for the ability to create atmosphere I find myself at ease in. She is, for me, the master of ‘ichi-go ichi-e’ - this elusive Japanese awareness of treasuring the unrepeatable nature of a moment. “Amrita”, like many other works by Yoshimoto, is a perfect novel embodying it.

Many people have a problem with “Amrita”, saying it is too weird or about nothing in particular. Some characters possess powers most people don’t: they can enter other people’s dreams, they have premoni
Mar 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: japan
It might be unfair to rate this novel so low when I skipped most of it, and will probably toss it away before I could finish it. It is not necessarily boring, rather, not interesting. I did not find any appeal in the story or the author's approach to narration.

Banana Yoshimoto is a talented writer. She is very popular in her native Japan and has a loyal following. Her writings however seem to target young women. Her popular novels (at least the ones that I have read) were written in the 90s whe
Hafizz Nasri
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
In Sanskrit, Amrita means immortality. And this book was in between surreal and reality. I've read few magical realism before, but never one like this. A fresh kind of vibe.

Talking about plot, as what Yoshimoto said-- this book is very simple. It was about daily life and what's happening around. I love how it relates to most of familiar scenes in life-- people come and go, incidents happen, loneliness and betrayal, friendship and families, gifted and ungifted. As what Yoshimoto said in foreword
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
The thing about Banana Yoshimoto's books is that I feel like I'm being introduced into a real and raw, yet dreamy world. The main character Sakumi (aka Saku-chan) describes her "mixed up" family and the death of her younger sister and her own accident with crystal clear and unapologetic simplicity.

All the characters have some flaw and we see the flaws, but the flaws are so real and we are able to view them as natural part of life, not a problematic thing to overcome. The characters all seem to s
Katie Lumsden
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 3.5
I find it hard to say how I feel about this book. It felt much more disjointed and unpolished that Banana Yoshimoto's other works; it's a lot longer than her others, and I wonder if her writing is more suited to shorter fiction. Saying that, it has an odd charm to it - I love the relationship bet Sakumi and her younger brother, which was for me the heart of the story, and I feel like it explores a lot of really interesting themes. Yoshimoto's writing has that strange and beautiful quali
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto is one of those books that is a terror to summarize. The book I think is best summarized by one of the quotes by the protagonist "The world around us often goes thru changes. It doesn't mean it gets better or worse. It simply continues to change, endlessly moving on"

Amrita, the sanskrit word (yes, sanskrit), means life flow and throughout the book it flows. There is a cycle of events, emotions and thoughts which doesn't really have a 'story' that has a beginning and en
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
I remembered loving Kitchen, so when I saw this book was on sale, I couldn't resist.

I probably should have.

People seem to like Banana's books for her writing style -- oddly enough, that's exactly what I dislike about this one [and, now that I think of it, I didn't much like it in Kitchen, either]. It may be more "real" to have a character constantly contradict herself, but it makes for really annoying reading when those contradictions happen in the same paragraph, over and over and over.

I also h
Mar 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Some books are great, some are pretty good and some are written by Dan Brown. But what's even worse than a book written by Dan Brown is a book which is critically acclaimed, hailed as "extraordinarily powerful", "difficult to forget", "astonishing", "endearing", but which is so annoyingly bad, you begin to doubt your own ability to recognize good writing. Is this book "difficult to forget?" I would say... probably not, since I just gave up on it yesterday (having reached page 87 and finally deci ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Sadly, this Banana Yoshimoto failed my 100-page test.
Rosie Nguyễn
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just love this book. It's about the love of life, love of living, love of all the tiny little things and moments that everyone of us would encounter in our daily life. Having undergone so many tragedies and hardships, the main character is still so strong and so full of hope. To me it's the Japanese spirit of "build back better", it reminds me of how blessed I am having another day on Earth, breathing and enjoying the (even not so fresh) air and living the life that I have been fighting for.

Mrs. Fujiwara
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ha Thu 'Yvonne' Do
Freak. I thought it would take me forever to finish reading this book as I lost tracks a hundred times and still managed to find out what the title "Amrita" has anything related to the character. Of course I was amused by how random it is.
There are tons of details I couldn't skip and guess what, it made me entirely exhausted. I even had a nightmare of losing my beloved. It was so haunting of a book yet so random and trashy it can be.
Is this "Banana-maniac" everyone is talking about? Meh.
But I
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Banana Yoshimoto's fully realized works available in English, a travelogue about a woman who lost her memories and, along for the journey, her kid brother, whose burgeoning psychic powers threaten to overwhelm him. In all, a life affirming novel with some odd quirks.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I like Yoshimoto but I don't think this one lives up to her N.P., Lizard, and Kitchen. It's a saga of a Sakimu who injures herself and while recovering tells her story and her sister's and borther's.
Jenny Jump
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my most favourite books I've ever read!
J $
I adore Banana, but it's hard not to feel that her style is better suited to short fiction after finishing Amrita. All the definitive aspects of her writing are here and, often, beautiful - the deep introspection, sensitivity, and surrealism that make her so enjoyable to read - but after a certain point it feels expected, even redundant, as the story drags on with seemingly little direction. I understand the thematic significance of the story's length and progression, but the payoff doesn't fe ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Banana Yoshimoto’s Amrita is an intriguing story that seems to abstract time as one reads it. It tells the story of the death of a fragile young actress, and the fragmented lives she leaves behind. In her absence, strange things begin to occur. Her younger brother begins to have extrasensory visions, her ex-fiance travels the world in search of a story to tell, and her older sister Sakumi is there to pick up the pieces of her own broken memory, after suffering a severe fall. On her journey navig ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, read-2012, own
An usually long novel for Banana Yoshimoto, but just as beautiful and touching as everything else I have read from her.
Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto

Wow. Unbelievably, this is the 50th book I’ve read for 2020. Time really flies. Amrita is Banana Yoshimoto’s longest book yet, and the title Amrita is Sanskrit for immortality. It’s a strange novel about a girl, Sakume, who’s just recovered from a concussion, and her relationships with family and friends. Her telepathic brother is able to predict events like UFO sightings and read people’s minds. Sakume herself seems to attract tons of weird people too, one person even
Jun 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not for me. It’s been a thousand years since I read Copeland’s Generation X, but the aimless quality and “deep musings” of Amrita (first published in 1994) brought it to mind. Except this book is 3 times as long. And includes people with extrasensory powers, like telepathy and clairvoyance.

Things that make me go huh?:
Speed never forgives injury. In the air, however, wounds will dry up, and at some point dissipate into the running continuum of time. Tears will dry up too.

When an imperfect per
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
3.3 - this was a weird one. the prologue made me think the story would be different, and even the blurb wasn't completely revealing of the story. as an afterword, yoshimoto says she wanted to represent the mundane nature of life, and I think she did, but I'm not sure it necessarily made for the most readable book. there were points that were just too far fetched and unrealistic, but other bits that were poignant and meaningful. just a very bizarre book - I'd be interested to see how her shorter ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
like ‘Kitchen’ but 400 pages. beautiful and like being inside a dream
This book was incredibly bizarre to me. On one hand, I had to admire the positivity and optimism the characters all seemed to have. Considering in the first few pages we learn our main character experiences falling down a flight of stairs injuring her head/brain and losing her memory, and her sister committing suicide, it's shocking that the book has such a lighthearted, upbeat tone. While I can see why there are people who admire the book for this - after all, why do serious subjects like suici ...more
Jeridel Banks
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
As much as I liked Kitchen, Goodbye Tsugumi, and Asleep, I didn't like Amrita. There were some aspects that were interesting--Sakumi's younger brother, Yoshio, and the couple living in Saipan--but I wasn't impressed with the writing. It didn't move me or make me sympathize with Sakumi. That's one of my problems with reading books: I don't really want to read how the writer thinks about life. I'd rather them show me than tell me by allowing the story to unfold naturally. The dialogue seemed more ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty disappointed with this book. I've really enjoyed everything I've read by this author thus far so I thought a meaty novel like this would really be my thing. I felt like it completely lacked plot and just sort of wandered around making little philosophical points. The concept of the main character losing her memory and slowly gaining it back in flashes sounds intriguing but the execution feels sloppy. Her relationships seem undeveloped and I just couldn't get into the novel. Nothing ...more
Saima Nisbet
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
A rather odd story and some of the writing is stilted but that's likely due to the translation from Japanese. Yet quite enjoyable as it relates the stories about the relationships between a girl and her siblings alive and dead, parents alive and dead, boyfriend & some rather strange friends. The strange nature of some occurrences in the story didn't appeal 100% to me, a lover of strangeness, but they were interesting. I was torn between 3 or 4 stars and opted for 4. I've liked her other work bet ...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

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