The novel Kitchen, by award winning author Banana Yoshimoto, is her debut novel and also one of her most highly acclaimed works. Kitchen is a story which involves love, family, and food. This book is a quick read, but its definitely the type of book that has the unique quality of being re readable. I first read this book in high school, and since then have been a huge fan of it and its creator. The story is narrated, by the protagonist Mikage a young woman in her early twenties, who recently just lost her grandmother. She finds herself alone in the world, without any family, but ends up finding another. She ends up meeting Yuichi Tanabe, a college classmate and also a part time employee at a flower shop her grandmother would frequent to. He worries about Mikage’s condition after the loss of her grandmother, and him and his mother, Eriko, welcome her into their family. Mikage ends up finding solace within the kitchen, as she prepares meals for Eriko and Yuichi. Though the kitchen offers her some comfort, she still finds herself grieving and having negative thoughts.
What makes this story even more special is that it’s about this family which isn’t the typical nuclear family. It’s made up of Mikage who isn’t blood related, and Eriko a transgendered father-to-mother of Yuichi. Though not the typical family that’s represented in most literary works, they are still a family nonetheless, as you see the way they treat each other and their dynamic within the home. Mikages first person narration allows us to see those around her through her eyes, and shows us what’s in her heart. The descriptions she gives us, allows our perspectives of the other characters to be similar to hers, causing us to have a closer relationship with the characters.
The novel Kitchen is filled with mysticism, relationships, love, and grief. The first person narration allows you to feel the emotions of the protagonist, and understand her experience and feelings more. Kitchen grabs your attention from beginning to end, with its characters, events, and details. It’s a book that can be read over and over again, and still be good every single time.