Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto


Banana Yoshimoto has a nuanced and magical ability to animate the lives of her young characters, and here she spins the stories of three women, all bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning for a lost lover, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, who has embarked on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake. A third finds her sleep haunted by another woman whom she was once pitted against in a love triangle. Sly and mystical as a ghost story, with a touch of Kafkaesque surrealism, Asleep is an enchanting new book from one of the best writers of contemporary international fiction.

Pages: 72 of 177 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Grove Press
Released: July 26, 2000

The third and final novella in ‘Asleep’ is ‘Asleep’.

Terako use to be a lively and energetic person, but for some reason she can’t help but sleep all the time. She isn’t sure when it started, but realizes that whenever she is alone she just can’t help herself. The only thing that keeps her from wasting away in sleep is her boyfriend Mr. Iwanaga.

After Terako would spend time with Mr. Iwanaga, she’d usually talk to her best friend, Shiori, about it. However, Shiori commits suicide and Terako feels a sense of loss and loneliness from it. She can’t talk to her boyfriend about Shiori as he has his own problems to deal with. His wife has been in a coma for several months now and even though he’s in a relationship, he can’t let her go. Naturally, he doesn’t want to talk about it, but Terako finds herself growing more and more fascinated about his wife and waiting for the day when he finally lets go of his wife and comes to her, body, mind, and soul.

I feel like Asleep could relate to anyone who has ever been in a standstill in their life. When something happens and you find yourself in a rut, it’s hard to come out of it and you find yourself almost in a trance. It isn’t until someone gives you a wake-up call that you start to change your life.

Banana Yoshimoto’s simple prose and dreamlike setting worked incredibly well here. To me, this was her strongest story in this collection.



I liked the story; I mean I really, really liked this story. The sense of loneliness, even though you are with someone that you feel from both Terako and Mr. Iwanaga was sad, but interesting to watch. Both of them had to overcome their own demons if they wanted to have a proper relationship. Even though they both suffered from different things, they were still connected by Mr. Iwanaga’s wife. I do wish this was longer, but it was great.

4.5 stars


Tracy said...

This one sounds fascinating! I've not heard of this author before, but I've added this one to my wishlist.

Popin said...

I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to read it. Each story has a very surreal feeling to it.

~ Popin