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The Lake, Banana Yoshimoto


I’d heard a lot of buzz about this author, and when this novel was published in an English translation, decided to pick it up and give it a try. Chihiro is a young artist who has moved to Tokyo to pursue a career in graphic design and finds herself painting murals; Nakajima is a graduate student in the sciences and lives in the building diagonal to Chihiro. They both spend a great deal of time in their apartments, and eventually develop a friendship and romance. Although she enjoys their connection, it is obvious to Chihiro that there is something very disturbing in Nakajima’s past, and before long, he asks her to go with him to confront something from his past.

I read this novel in the course of an evening. The writing is clear, highly readable, and the narrator is well-described by another character as “just right.” However, while the story started off with plenty of suspense, I felt there really wasn’t a payoff at the end. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much sci-fi and fantasy, but I thought that there might have been a supernatural twist coming at the end, and I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn’t. I did like the writing style, and will probably try another of her novels in the future.

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