The Lake: Book summary and reviews of The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

The Lake

by Banana Yoshimoto

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
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  • Published in USA  May 2011
    192 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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... 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 countryside, it's also one of her most moving.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will go to Japan disaster relief.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Yoshimoto's marvelously light touch is perfectly captured by Emmerich's pristine translation." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The simplicity of this elliptical novel's form and expression belies its emotional depth.... At one point the narrator feels like she is 'inhabiting someone else's dream,' which is the sort of effect the reader might experience as well." - Kirkus Reviews

"Yoshimoto aficionados who have savored any of the dozen-plus novels she's written over the last three decades... will recognize her signature crisp, clipped style (thanks to exacting translator Emmerich's constancy) and revel in her latest cast of quirky characters." - Library Journal

"The Lake bears [Yoshimoto's] signature characteristics - simple prose, unusual characters - but the story is darker, and has resonances with Japan's sinister Aum Shinrikyo cult." - The Hindu

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Banana Yoshimoto wrote her first novel, Kitchen, while working as a waitress at a golf-course restaurant. It sold millions of copies worldwide, and led to a phenomenon dubbed by Western journalists as "Banana mania." Yoshimoto has gone on to be one of the biggest-selling and most distinguished writers in Japanese history, winning numerous awards for her work. The Lake is her thirteenth book of fiction.

Michael Emmerich has translated numerous books by Banana Yoshimoto and is also famous for his translations of Nobel Prize-winner Yasunari Kawabata.

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