REVIEW: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

kitchen elenasquareeyesAfter the death of her grandmother Mikage struggles to cope and finds herself moving in with a young friend of her grandmothers, Yuichi and his transgender mother Eriko. With their help she learns how to move on and discovers a love of cooking and a safe haven in the kitchen.

In many ways Kitchen is a love letter to the kitchen. How the kitchen can often be the centre of a home and how it provides for the people living there. Mikage says she can tell a lot about people by hat their kitchen is like and it’s an interesting thought, how one room can tell so much about someone. Also as Mikage gets back on her feet it becomes a love letter to food as she reads any cookbook she can get her hands on and learns everything she can – the way the food is described is mouth-wateringly good.

I liked Mikage quite a bit, her deep grief was understandable as she’d not only lost her grandmother but her only living relative. The way that Yuichi and Eriko slowly help her come out of her shell by simply being there was a great way at showing the grieving process and how to get through it. I liked Eriko a lot as well, she is unapologetic for who she is and it was refreshing to see a character with such confidence. Yuichi, on the other hand, got on my nerves a bit. He became quite self-centred and didn’t seem to see how his actions were appearing to Mikage and to other people. Yuichi and Mikage’s friendship did seem special so when it seemed a bit like a will-they-won’t-thy romance may happen I, like Mikage, was unsure as to what I wanted to happen.

Kitchen is a short, simple story that looks at death and grieving and the connection between two young people. It might not be for everyone with the often simple yet beautiful language but at 104 ages it’s definitely worth a look. 3/5.


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