It’s a rare thing to find an author whose novels I love in equal measure. Banana Yoshimoto is one such person. I’m not sure what it is about her stories that captivate me so much. Perhaps it’s their deceptively simple spirit and humble yet poetic quality. The various settings evoke my tender memories of Japan- the seaside air and congenial atmosphere of a traditional inn in Goodbye Tsugumi, the high-rise Tokyo apartments in Kitchen, and the tranquil beauty of a lake in The Lake. They strike close to the heart of humanity by revealing the nuances and contradictions of our relationships with others, be it friendship, parental relations or romantic love.