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NP A Novel
Banana Yoshimoto

Published by Grove Press/NT in 1990
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


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Sometimes I judge a book by its title, that is, I choose to read it because of its title. This book I chose to read because of the delicious name of its author, Banana. Now I have the delicious opportunity to tell you about what happens when you peel the banana.

What you get is a feng shui of a novel. A story and a writing style that is so sparse that you seem to live in an almost empty room at times, listening over the shoulder to one, two, or at most three people talking about life. About life and death. About life and a book. A book that seems to create death in its wake. Unlike the Maltese Falcon, which created death in those who desired to possess it, the book NP created death in those who desired to translate it. And a death that was self-inflicted.

Kazami is the narrator and works as a translator of Japanese works into English as does her mother. She has been involved with translating or trying to complete a translation of NP, the book within the book. Along the way she meets Sui, the gal who slept with the man who wrote the book, appeared as a character in the book, and appears as a character in this book. Her father who wrote the book is dead, as are several people who tried to translate the book. Sui's way on introducing herself is to poke her fingers into their ribs and say, "Give me your money." as they stand in line at the ATM machine or kidnap them if they get into the car with her upon first meeting them. With all this background you might think this is a murder mystery, but it's not, it's novel about three girl friends and a book that weaves a destiny between them.

A delightful read, a truly novel approach to the novel, and definitely in the category of "reading for enjoyment" on my bookshelf.


Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


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