The Lake – Banana Yoshimoto

Banana is back and as charming as ever, though this new novel is tinged with an eerie melancholy that really moved me.  Chohiro is a young artist eking out a living as a somewhat successful muralist in Tokyo. Her relationship with Nakajima, a strangely awkward young man who lives across the road, both delights and perplexes her.  However he has a secret, and it seems that something terrible happened in the past, something he cannot bring himself to speak or even think about. It’s not until they travel to a little house by a small lake that the truth begins to reveal itself.  This is a book about damaged people, the tangible presence of the past, and the importance of sharing and hope to transcend it. The prose is simple yet luminous, and the characters are vivid even when they are elusive. Despite the tone of sadness, this novel has a strong heart of optimism in the gently dauntless Chihiro. (submitted by JW)

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