Sunday 18 October 2020

Book Review: The Nakano Thrift Shop by Kawakami Hiromi (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: The Nakano Thrift Shop
Author: Kawakami Hiromi
Publisher: Portobello Books
Publication Date: 2017 (2005)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Borrowed from the Library

When Hitomi takes a job on the cash register of a neighbourhood thrift store, she finds herself drawn into a very idiosyncratic community. There is Mr Nakano, an enigmatic ladies' man with several ex-wives; Masayo, Mr Nakano's sister, an artist who has never married; and her fellow employee Takeo, a shy but charming young man. And every day, customers from the neighbourhood pass in and out as curios are bought and sold, each one containing its own surprising story. When Hitomi and Takeo begin to fall for one another, they find themselves in the centre of their own drama - and on the edges of many others.

A tender and affecting exploration of the mystery that lurks in the ordinary, this novel traces the seemingly imperceptible threads that weave together a community, and the knots that bind us to one another.


The Nakano Thrift Shop was a middle-of-the-road read for me. I enjoyed Strange Weather in Tokyo, but in comparison, the characters and action in this book felt a little dull and repetitive. There were some fun, humorous moments and also instances of lovely, descriptive prose. But overall it never managed to capture my imagination or my heart. When I got to the end, I wasn't completely disappointed, but I do know it's not a story I feel any need to reread in the future. Once was enough with this book. It certainly won't put me off reading more works by this author, but I don't feel The Nakano Thrift Shop is one of her best pieces and it's not one I'd recommend to readers new to her writing, as I don't think it does her justice.

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