Erica Kornberg
April 15, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

N.P.

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Banana Yoshimoto
genre
Fiction

We gave it an B

As in her earlier book, Kitchen, in N.P. Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto combines her direct style with her favorite, oblique subject: living people haunted-sometimes literally-by the dead. In Kitchen, the dichotomy worked well; the slyly sweet writing lent credence to the book’s mystical elements. In N.P., something is missing-namely youthfully effervescent characters that made sections of Kitchen seem to float right off the page. Here, Yoshimoto’s writing seems grounded, along with her plot, about a young woman whose lover commits suicide while trying to translate a mysterious-and seemingly malevolent-story by a dead writer, also a suicide. Yoshimoto seems to be going for the slow-burn suspense of film noir, but the flat prose fails to create the literary equivalent. There are vestiges of Kitchen’s appealingly realistic vernacular, but ultimately the heroine lacks the intoxicating spunkiness we’ve come to expect-and enjoy-from an author named Banana. B

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