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.
Night and Night's Travelers
Pages: 65 of 177 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Grove Press
Released: July 26, 2000
Night and Night's Traveler is from the book Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto. Instead of reviewing the book as a whole, I decided to review each short story in the book.
I’ve wanted to read Banana Yoshimoto’s books for awhile now, but sadly, I never got the chance to. After I found the book at the library, I knew that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Asleep contains three stories, each of them dealing with a facet of sleeping. The first short story is called Night and Night’s Traveler.
The story is about Shibami, except it isn’t. Shibami is the narrator and reveals to us the life of her brother, Yoshihiro....except that the story isn’t about Yoshihiro. It’s more about how his death affects the lives of his two lovers, Sarah, an American girl, and Mari, his cousin.
When Yoshihiro dies on his way to meet Mari, she becomes grief stricken and stays with his family for a year to recover. Once she moves back to her own place everything seems like it will work out, until Shibami finds Mari outside in the cold without any shoes on. This isn’t the first time Mari has been walking around late at night and she’ll be continuing to do so as the novella continues. Sarah loved Yoshihiro, but holds another secret of her own and is unable to face his family, even though she cares for them.
Night and Night’s Traveler was the weakest story in Asleep, mainly because you didn’t get a sense of the characters like you did in the other stories. I think my main problem with the story is that we don’t really see everything about Sarah or Mari. We do hear bits and pieces, but since Shibami is the narrator, we never really get the full story. Shibami is an interesting character, but I don’t think she worked as a narrator.
I did enjoy reading Night and Night's Traveler; I just wish that we were told more of the story. And that it was in the point of view of the person suffering, like it was in the other two stories.