N.P. – Banana Yoshimoto
September 27, 2009 § 3 Comments
From the moment we met, I was a butterfly that flew into that space that was his soul, a room where the light had begun to dim. Although he may have regarded me as a welcome distraction, in fact, my presence only confused him more because I introduced flashes of daylight into his darkness.
In many ways, this book is very different from many others that I’ve read so far. Much like the main character of this story, I felt like, as a reader, I was invading a space which is not my own. And though interesting the space may be, at times I would get confused about where everything was leading me, I was left in the dark with no inkling as to what might happen next.
In a nutshell, the story as it is printed on the inside of the cover:
A celebrated Japanese writer has committed suicide, leaving behind a collection of stories written in English, N.P. But the book may never be published in his native Japan: Each translator who takes up the ninety-eighth story chooses death too — including Kazami Kano’s boyfriend, Shoji. Haunted by Shoji’s death, Kazami is inexorably drawn to three young people whose lives are intimately bound to the late writer and his work. Over the course of an astonishing summer, she will discover the truth behind the ninety-eighth story — and she will come to believe that “everything that had happened was shockingly beautiful, enough to make you crazy”.
Personally, I don’t think this blurb does much justice for the story. The plot is much more complex than what it seems, and it appears to me also that the meaning behind the way the story is laid out runs deeper than what can be perceived from a first read.
There is a certain beauty to the simplicity of the language that she uses in the book. Her phrases are short, her scenes relatively easy to follow. Having said that, her style is not my favourite. In fact, perhaps her style of writing made the book less enjoyable for me than if it were written in a
different mood and manner.
A lot of the time, I wish she would let me know more about the characters in the story, Sui in particular. This woman is so much a mystery, even now, I wish I could have known her better. The other characters within the story were also interesting individuals, but all the same, I wish she could have explored them a little more. So many things were left vague and without any real connection.
In the end, I felt like I was the butterfly, fluttering around in a story I couldn’t really connect to. I kept reading because I wanted to know more, but the moment when my curiosity was satisfied or enhanced just never came. It remained quite flat for me throughout, with no real peak or excitement.
Somehow, I wish I had enjoyed this book more.