ISBN-10: 0802138209
Publisher: Grove Press Books
Published: July 2001
177 pgs
Source: Personal Library (via BookMooch)
(Translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich)

I just could not get enough of Banana Yoshimoto's books. I think it all started after I read Kitchen, which is the first book I read by this author and I fell in love with her lyrical prose. Following Kitchen, I read Goodbye Tsugumi, which is another great read but not as good as Kitchen in my humble opinion. Of course I wouldn't stop reading there, thus Asleep comes in and once again, I was swept away by her enchanting storytelling and her beautiful, poetic writing style.

Asleep contains three stories of young women who are somehow bewitched into a spiritual sleep. Night and Night's Travelers is the first story where it features the connection between Shibami (the narrator) and her cousin Mari after the death of Shibami's brother, Yoshihiro. Mari has developed feelings for Yoshihiro before and ever since his death, she goes into a withdrawal stage where she sleepwalk. It is also at this time that Shibami began to discover a secret of Yoshihiro's previous relationship with an American girl.

The second story, Love Songs, is about a young woman named Fumi who often hears a soothing voice singing every time before she goes to sleep. Initially she dismiss it as the result of a broken heart and drinking, but yet again the more she thinks of it the more she thinks of Haru, a dead woman who also had a relationship with her ex-lover at the same time when she was with him. Haru and Fumi were never in good terms with each other; it is natural since they were both having a relationship with the same man but Fumi later find peace and friendship with Haru after a consultation with a midget psychic.

Asleep, which share the same title as the book is the last story where another young woman, Terako who is sleeping her days away after the death of her best friend, Shiori. She felt a deep sense of loss and not even her boyfriend, Mr. Iwanaga could release that pent-up tension in her. Mr. Iwanaga has a wife and Terako only knew about her coma later, as he is reluctant to mention anything about his wife. Terako then slowly began to find her new self only after she see through Shiori's life and a dreamlike encounter with Mr. Iwanaga's wife.

This book has similiar elements in each story, such as connection, friendship, love and death which associated with sleep (as indicated by the book title) and a sense of loneliness. Once again, Banana Yoshimoto has delivered another spellbinding stories, this time around with a mystical touch. She has captured each character's emotions so well that you would be able to feel for them. Another thing I love about Banana Yoshimoto's stories are they are told from a refreshing point of view even if they often revolve around the simple things in our life. Most of the times, I felt myself get carried away with her books because they are simply alluring, and not to mention thought-provoking at times.

Have you read any books by Banana Yoshimoto? Which one is your favourite?

Other reviews:
The Written World
The Zen Leaf
Things Mean A Lot
(Let me know if I missed yours.)

16 Responses
  1. Alice Says:

    I haven't read any of Banana Yoshimoto's books, but I like the name!

  2. Melody Says:

    Alice - I hope you'll read her books one day. They're great IMO!

  3. Tasha Says:

    I enjoyed Kitchen when I read it about 10 years ago, but I have not read anything else by her. I'll add this one to my list.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I haven't read any, but you've made me add this one to my wish list! Great review!

  5. Julia Says:

    Melody - It wonderful when you discover a new author and than love the first book and than love the 2nd book as well. I never read book by Banana Yoshimoto but she seem to be interesting writer :)

  6. Melody Says:

    Charley - I'm glad you're adding this book on to your wishlist! I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to it.

    Stacy - Thanks, Stacy! If you want to try her books, I'd highly recommend you to read Kitchen first! :D

    Julia - Indeed it's a wonderful feeling! You bet I'm going to check out the rest of her books! I hope you'll try reading her books one day!

  7. Ana S. Says:

    That's something that I love about her too - the stories deal with such everyday, simple things, and yet they feel...big, and even a little magical :)

  8. Ladytink_534 Says:

    This is the first time I've heard of this author but what a great name! I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much :)

  9. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    I've not read anything from Banana, but Kitchen has been on my list forever. I need to make it a priority!

  10. Iliana Says:

    What a lovely review, Melody! I'm adding this one to my must reads. I think we both read Kitchen around the same time and I really loved it too. Have you read NP? Not as good as Kitchen but definitely worthwhile.

  11. Melody Says:

    Nymeth - I'm glad we share the same sentiments! :)

    Jen - I love her name, it's so unique.

    Sandy - You've to read Kitchen! Can't wait to hear what you'll think of it!

    Iliana - Thanks, Iliana! I had a great time reading and reviewing this book. :) I've to thank you because you're the one who recommended Kitchen to me! :D

    I haven't read NP but I'll be sure to check the rest of her books!

  12. Debi Says:

    Oh my...thanks to all yours and Ana's and Eva's lovely reviews, I've collected four of her books thus far. And have yet to read a single one. *sigh* Why won't someone just grant us three extra hours a day that must be spent on reading?!!

  13. Mel u Says:

    My favorite of her works are Goodbye Tsugumi and Hardboiled-I love her work and will read Asleep in 2010-great review

  14. Melody Says:

    Debi - I definitely need those extra hours for my reading! How nice if I could read full-time!

    Mel - Thanks, Mel! I look forward to reading the rest of her books in 2010!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    It's been a long time since I read Kitchen by the same author. Her sparse prose really made an impression in me. I think this book sounds very interesting. :)

  16. Anna Says:

    This is an author I've been wanting to try. Sounds like an interesting book.

    Diary of an Eccentric

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