Sunday, March 20, 2011

More Banana, Please

There are many reasons I have come to love Japanese literature, but if I had to list a few of the top things which I am drawn to I would have to say the deceptive simplicity and the way some of the Japanese writers tend to go around and around things leaving you stunned at the end when you realize you were actually looking directly at it all along.

One of the writers I most admire is Banana Yoshimoto. I think the following graph from Elizabeth Wadell's review of Hardboiled & Hard Luck in The Quarterly Conversation really does a fantastic job of summing up the magic that is Banana Yoshimoto:

The narrators are in a fragile, undetermined state of trying to figure out how to pay tribute to their tragedies while still finding some way past them. At times, they express nostalgia for the real, clear pain of the tragedy, and all moments when feeling was genuine and clear. Describing the aftermath of her sister’s cerebral hemorrhage, the narrator of “Hard Luck” explains, “Kuni hadn’t only given us pain, she also created moments for us that were so much more concentrated then usual. In the world we lived in, the good times were a hundred times better. If we couldn’t catch that sparkle only the agony would remain.”

This is what I would love to see more of in our submissions.

This attempt to transcend the horrifying tragedy still unfolding in Japan.