by Banana Yoshimoto
translated from Japanese by Megan Backus
This novella and short story about grief are an excellent demonstration that you can depict dark, devastating emotion without being hyperbolic or overwrought.
“Kitchen part 1”, “Kitchen part 2” and “Moonlight shadow” each follows a young person (college age ish) who has lost a significant person from their lives. The relationship to the deceased is different and on the surface the reactions are different, but at heart the grief is similar.
One of the keys that Yoshimoto taps into is the comfort of specific places, for example a kitchen or a bridge in a park, in helping the process of grief. In “Kitchen”, Mikage doesn’t even need a specific kitchen to help her feel better – any kitchen will do, though she is particularly enamoured by the kitchen of her friend Yuichi, a young man she barely knew before her recent bereavement.