Asleep was the second book I read after Banana Yoshimoto’s beautiful book Kitchen. Kitchen has made me feel so happy, and at ease, so I thought Asleep would be the same. I couldn’t be more wrong. This book made me feel uncomfortable and uneasy. All of the three long stories took me to different places and raised some feelings that I hadn’t thought of for years. Are we aware of how powerful literature is?

Asleep - Banana Yoshimoto

Asleep and the reading experience

The main character of all three stories in Asleep is a woman. They are all told from the point of view of these women. In all, the subjects of sleep, night and obscurity are studied. There are other things I can’t name. That’s why I fel hazy after I finish the book. Some sentences made me think about something that I’ve buried deep in my mind. And some of the sentences uncloaked the feelings I didn’t want to face. I have to say that I felt this strange loneliness. So I always found myself hugging my husband. Although all of the stories are awesome, I was glad when I finished the book. It was a very different reading experience for me. Have you ever read a similar book?

About the book: Asleep

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 her sleep haunted by another woman whom she was once pitted against in a love triangle. Sly and mystical as a ghost story, with a touch of Kafkaesque surrealism, Asleep is an enchanting book from one of the best writers in contemporary international fiction. 

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About the author: Banana Yoshimoto

Banana Yoshimoto is the pen name of Japanese writer Mahoko Yoshimoto. From 2002 to 2015, she wrote her name in hiragana. Yoshimoto was born in Tokyo on July 24, 1964, and grew up in a liberal family. Her father is the famous poet and critic Takaaki Yoshimoto, and her sister, Haruno Yoiko, is a well-known cartoonist in Japan. Yoshimoto graduated from Nihon University’s Art College with a major in literature. While there, she adopted the pseudonym “Banana”, after her love of banana flowers, a name she recognizes as both “cute” and “purposefully androgynous.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Japanese Literature – A Literary Journey

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