Review of Banana Yoshimoto’s Amrita

Another Contemporary Japanese Literary Piece: Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto


Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto 
Buy the Book


After my last review on a Japanese classic, today I switch my gear and want to write about the novel titled Amrita. This novel is written by one of the well-known Japanese contemporary writers, Banana Yoshimoto. Many Japanese literature enthusiasts perhaps know Yoshimoto through her famous short novel, Kitchen. Although Amrita is among Yoshimoto’s less-known works, she received the 5th Murasaki Shikibu prize for literature with this work. If you go to a bookstore and check the shelf where Yoshimoto’s works are lined, Amrita stands out because it is the most voluminous work she has ever written. Except for Amrita, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Yoshimoto usually writes very short pieces. It is not really significant, but still an interesting point as I could not help wondering why she chose to write a lengthy work like Amrita after all her short novels 🙂  Of course, after reading the novel from beginning to the end, I tried to come up with an answer. However, I will not share it here. I am leaving the judgement to you and your experience with her works 🙂

Despite its length, Amrita is a novel about the never-ending cycle of life including major events as well as very trivial things that it encompasses. The theme is blended with the elements of magical realism through the protagonist’s memory loss and some supernatural occurrences. And for those readers, who got familiar with the works of Haruki Murakami first, elements of magical realism would certainly remind them of Murakami whose characters are also swayed from one place to another by life. However, the similarity between them does not go beyond that. Continue reading