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Moshi moshi
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Book Club > 6/17 Discussion for Moshi Moshi

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message 1: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1119 comments This topic is for comments and questions on Moshi moshi. Perhaps we could hide spoilers until June 15, in order to give everyone a chance to read it, if they want to. After that date, unless others disagree, we will discuss the whole book without spoiler tags.


Michael | 47 comments questions: has anybody read other yoshimoto? is it overfamiliar to me? is it equivalent to any author in say US/western novels that i might have read?


message 3: by Tim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tim | 152 comments Despite finishing this book yesterday, I wanted to hold off until today to post. I didn’t want to post anything until June actually began, and I wanted to get my thoughts in clearer order before posting. As you can see from my rating, I wasn’t personally a big fan of the book, but there are still quite a few interesting things to discuss.

I’m going to post all of my thoughts as a spoiler, just to be on the safe side.

(view spoiler)


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston | 642 comments I'm sorry to say, I'm going to give up on this one only fifteen pages in. There just seems to be something wrong with the translation. It doesn't sound like natural English, and I can't put my finger on exactly why, but it's not really wrong... just unnatural. By page five I was wanting to reword sentences so they made more sense and wasn't paying attention to the story or its feelings. That's no way to enjoy a novel.

I'd appreciate input from someone reading it in Japanese, so I know whether to read it in Japanese someday. But not this month. I've read some Yoshimoto in Japanese before and already have a couple of her books in Japanese on my unread shelf (physical shelf, not goodreads shelf).


message 5: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1119 comments I"m behind on starting this, Bill, but you've set the bar low at 15 pages, so I'll start it tomorrow and try to get to 20 - 30 or so, albeit in English.


message 6: by Suki (last edited Jun 12, 2017 03:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 54 comments I'm still working my way through The Sea of Fertility series, but I decided to take a quick break and read Moshi Moshi. I love Banana Yoshimoto's books, but I think her earlier works are stronger than this one. I still had the sensation of being drawn into the world of the characters, and I still felt that I would like to meet and spend time with them, but this story did seem to fall a bit flat in places.

(view spoiler)


message 7: by Tim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tim | 152 comments Bill wrote: "It doesn't sound like natural English, and I can't put my finger on exactly why, but it's not really wrong... just unnatural. "

I felt the same way. I attributed this partially to the speeches that every character gives, even when not narrating. They go on at great length (often many paragraphs or even full pages) of uninterrupted dialogue. It may work in other languages (I'm not a language expert by any means, so I don't know for sure), but the structure of how the English language has conversions, we tend to interrupt monologues at some point.


Carola (carola-) | 119 comments I finished it! I must say I like it a lot more than the other Yoshimoto's I've read lately. Everything after Kitchen was pretty disappointing, but I enjoyed Moshi Moshi quite a bit!

As for the translation... I think there were even some incorrect English sentences? But I always start doubting myself, since English isn't my first language either ;) I should've written them down.


Christian (comeauch) | 230 comments Finally finished it! It was more difficult to read than I expected (this could easily be my motto about reading in Japanese haha, sigh).

I liked the story even though it's SO typical of Banana. Death, grief, family... making new roots. Maybe she was replaced by a deep learning robot? Anyway, she's probably still human, because the characters are realistic every time and here too. For instance the struggle about her mom coming to live with her was a great scene. It's a delicate situation and they both understand each other's feelings about it. Plus they both actually have conflicting views on it.

I think I see Tim's point about the dialogues sounding a bit artificial, but I would argue that they're kind of shortcuts. What they express is realistic, but there's no time wasted in searching for words and in understanding their feelings. I wish I were that insightful about myself as Yocchan is lol.

Then ending was er, surprising. Again as Tim said, it's especially surprising considering her previous relationship with Shintani, but it does make her more flesh-and-bone to change her mindset. It's just a bit weird, because we've learned to know him as "dad's friend" and it sort of comes out of nowhere. Oh well, Banana couldn't resist shaking a bit those public morals and I think it ultimately adds to the story. Unlike the frequent descriptions of Yocchan crying ;P We get it, she's fairly emotional lol.

I'm surprised to hear about the problems with the English translation! If anyone can pinpoint an example or two, we could have a look at the original vs. translated.


Michael | 47 comments i finished this a few books ago so i go by memory: and what i compare it to is her book 'kitchen'. i still remember that. at the time i thought of it as a more concise and equally odd character version of john irving's 'hotel new hampshire'. anybody else get that sense? but i liked yoshimoto much more and really nothing she has written since has been for me more than i liked it...

i can agree the dialogue is too often set monologues. i can sense we english readers might be missing out on subtle inferences in language. i like the 'typically japanese' focus on details and perceptions such as liking the way he eats! i like the apparent repression then explicit interactions of insights between mom and daughter...

i was bothered as i always am, by the japanese 'love suicide' tradition even if this was more murder... it certainly bothered me more in murakami's 'norwegian wood' but there it was romantic and here it was pathetic...

and then 'dad's friend' for sex somehow resolves her journey of acceptance? well i guess. does not resolve the book for me but i read it fast in one sitting so i did like it...


message 11: by Tim (last edited Jul 13, 2017 05:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tim | 152 comments Christian wrote: "For instance the struggle about her mom coming to live with her was a great scene. It's a delicate situation and they both understand each other's feelings about it. Plus they both actually have conflicting views on it."

I agree that this was a great scene and one of the few times I felt the genuine emotion between characters. I think what I found disappointing was that it didn't really keep up. Most of the actual emotional sequences felt off to me. I don't know if this was the translation or the intention, but for the most part it felt like characters playing out what they were "supposed" to feel rather than what they did. The only times real sentiment hit, to me at least, was in discussions of the town and the shop before it closed.

Christian wrote: "I'm surprised to hear about the problems with the English translation! If anyone can pinpoint an example or two, we could have a look at the original vs. translated. "

I really wish I could, but I no longer have the copy I read. It was a big enough issue though that the voice of the novel felt... stilted on just about every page.

Nice to see some more thoughts on the book though!


message 12: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston | 642 comments My copy is still sitting in my "give away" pile, but I doubt there's any glaring translation errors, so I'm not going to pour through it. It was just unnatural use of English, like mixing formal and colloquial words together. Makes me wonder if English is the translator's second language.


message 13: by Mad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mad | 1 comments I adore Yoshimoto and I found this one lackluster. She's sort of hit or miss for me but what I love I LOVE. Hard boiled and hard luck is probably my favorite. This one fell flat and so did Kitchen, which is maybe an unpopular opinion but I just... did not like it. Amrita was sort of the same. Otherwise she can keep writing about the same three themes til the cows come home with no complaints from me!


message 14: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 54 comments Madelyn wrote: "I adore Yoshimoto and I found this one lackluster. She's sort of hit or miss for me but what I love I LOVE. Hard boiled and hard luck is probably my favorite. This one fell flat and so did Kitchen,..."

I love everything Yoshimoto writes, but like with any author, some of her books are stronger than others. I liked Moshi Moshi quite a bit, but I agree with you, Madelyn, that it was not my favorite of her works. Personally, I loved Kitchen because it was my first time reading a modern Japanese writer in translation, and I loved her voice and her world. I have finally managed to track down an affordable copy of The Lake-- for some reason, it was always really high priced and seemed pretty rare. I'm looking forward to reading it soon.


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