Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto - Book Review

Title: The Lake
Author: Banana Yoshimoto

Publisher: Melville House

Publication Date: 3rd May 2011
Format: E-Book - PDF
Pages: 190
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley

A major literary sensation is back with a quietly stunning tour de force about a young woman who falls for a cult escapee.

While The Lake shows off many of the features that have made Banana Yoshimoto famous—a cast of vivid and quirky characters, simple yet nuanced prose, a tight plot with an upbeat pace—it’s also one of the most darkly mysterious books she’s ever written.
It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though ... until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too.
They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he has been the victim of some form of childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together a series of clues that lead her to suspect his experience may have had something to do with a bizarre religious cult. . . .
With its echoes of the infamous, real-life Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system), The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written. And as the two young lovers overcome their troubled past to discover hope in the beautiful solitude of the lake in the country- side, it’s also one of her most moving.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

This was a truly wonderful book. I've read a lot of paranormal lately and this was the perfect book to return me to literary fiction.

The book is deceptively simple but has a real hidden depth that you only notice as you reach the end and reflect on what has come before. The prose is gorgeous and flowing and it really draws you in and helps you connect to the characters and their lives.

This is one of the most interesting pieces I've read in a while, with thoughts on themes and ideas such as love and the way we deal with past trauma. It was thought-provoking and yet highly enjoyable at the same time. There are darker moments, but I think overall it is a very heartfelt piece of writing.

Highly recommended to fans of contemporary literary fiction. I shall definitely be seeking out more of this author's works.


  1. I hope to read this in the next two months-I have read several of her works-My favorite is Goodbye Tsugumi is my favorite though most pick Kitchen as their favorite-I enjoyed reading your well done post

  2. Thanks Mel. I will have to read those two others by her that you mentioned!

  3. Thanks for the review on this one. Definitely the type of book you rarely see reviewed and it's certainly one I will consider when looking for a change of pace. Sounds very interesting.

  4. Great review, Nicki. On your enthusiastic recommendation, I will have to check it out. Cool cover too!

  5. Wonderful review; I have heard good things about this book, and after reading your thoughts I have added it to my TBR list. I do enjoy good literary fiction :)