cover image The Premonition

The Premonition

Banana Yoshimoto, trans. from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda. Counterpoint, $27 (128p) ISBN 978-1-64009-371-3

This brisk 1988 novel from Yoshimoto (The Lake) appears in English for the first time in an adroit translation from Yoneda. The story centers on Yayoi, a precocious 19-year-old who displayed clairvoyant traits as a child. Her mother tells her that when she was a little girl, she would answer the phone and say who was calling (“Even people you didn’t know, and you were almost always right”). Yayoi feels inexplicably drawn to her eccentric aunt who lives in a large dilapidated house and teaches at a music college, and has a nagging sense that she’s forgotten something important from her childhood. Slowly, her premonitions become revelations, through dreams and visions, as she begins to piece together all she has forgotten, and the truth of her childhood is confirmed by her aunt and her brother, Tetsuo. Yoshimoto builds a satisfying narrative of a young girl figuring out who she is, and how her family may be more than she realized. While much of the plot hinges on Yayoi’s preternatural intuitions, each step is carefully plotted to slowly unearth the secrets of the past. No word is misspent in Yoshimoto’s taut tale. (Oct.)