amrita – banana yoshimoto

‘life can really be cruel sometimes. i’d better face the realisation that someday Noodles will be together with somebody else. right now the pain of her leaving me still resonates in my heart like beautiful gospel music, a beauty that comes with the flow of time, and the cruelty that came along with it. even if i let her go now i’ll still have something to call beauty, only it will manifest itself in a different form. so that’s the way i have to go on living, redeeming myself with true friends.’ (p.343)

the first book that i read by her was kitchen. i remember reading it while i was taking the train to hiroshima station, and i managed to finish it in the duration of the train ride (about an hour). it left a lump in my throat and a poignancy in my heart that i could not shake off; there is something about reading from translated (and particularly, japanese) novels that gives this feeling of incompleteness in emotions. nothing i could quite put my finger on.

a slightly bizzare storyline where the characters possessed certain superpowers. not explicitly sci-fi, the influence of the superficial seemed subtle most of the time and just realistic enough to be convinced that it possibly does exist. i liked the development of ideas regarding family, loss, and loneliness. again, possibly because it is a translated work, the expressions don’t seem to convey the full intensity of what she is actually trying to convey; it felt the same way to me regarding the storyline and lives of characters. many loose ends not entirely tied up.

according to yoshimoto’s afterword, the main point of the book was to highlight how despite the mishaps or events in life, it continues in a cycle. as explained in the novel, the title chosen (‘amrita’) signified continuously flowing water – reiterating the idea that life does not stop and will seamlessly continue moving forward. a rather pleasant read although i personally prefer kitchen to amrita.


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