cover image Moshi Moshi

Moshi Moshi

Banana Yoshimoto, trans. from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda. Counterpoint, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61902-786-2

In her deft handling of an unconventional coming-of-age story, Yoshimoto (Kitchen) begins with the mysterious death of Mitsuharu Imoto, keyboard player in the popular rock band Sprout, in what appears to be a “love murder-suicide in a forest in Ibaraki with a woman who’d apparently been a distant relative.” Mitsuharu’s 20-something daughter, Yoshie, wanting to separate herself from the loss of her father, moves from the family’s tony Meguro apartment to the fashionable Tokyo neighborhood of Shimokitazawa, where she discovers her passion in the culinary world. Yoshie’s mother, feeling her husband’s death profoundly despite the salacious circumstances, moves in with her daughter; in their own alternately wise and awkward ways, the two help each other come to terms with their new lives. Yoshie’s recurring dream that her father is trying to contact her on the phone coincides with her exploring her own future and her sexuality with Shintani-kun, a frequent customer at the bistro where Yoshie works, and the older Yamazaki-san, her father’s former bandmate. Poignant and buoyant, Yoshie’s story is a testament to the power of place and memory and the healing properties of time. Her awakening is a feast for the senses—meals prepared and eaten, magical cityscapes explored, “the daily movements and patterns of people I hadn’t even known about a few years ago coming in and out of this town like breath”—mirroring her own burgeoning sense of the world and her acceptance of its vagaries. “There wasn’t a single thing in the world that I could know or decide in advance,” Yoshie decides. Even in the absence of her beloved father, that realization suggests a delightful sense of possibility. (Dec.)