22. toukokuuta 2012

Goodbye Tsugumi - Banana Yoshimoto

Of all the books written by Yoshimoto, I somehow found Goodbye Tsugumi to be the hardest to read. It tells the story of two cousins, Maria and Tsugumi, coming of age in the Japanese countryside. Tsugumi is selfish and egocentric, someone who the reader will indubitably find annoying at more than one point. You can easily imagine someone kind of like her, and then again it’s not. She has inner strength many healthy people lack, and she comes up with wicked, twisted pranks to pull on the people living with her.

Goodbye Tsugumi is written from the point of view of Maria, Tsugumi’s cousin, and it covers the events of their last summer together before Maria moves to Tokyo to go to university there. Thanks to Tsugumi’s imaginative mind the summer is full of happenings and Banana Yoshimoto’s colorful language really paints the seaside very well. You can almost taste the salt at points, and anyone who has ever seen ocean during the night will know what it’s like.

I keep going back to Yoshimoto’s books. They have usually something supernatural right underneath the surface, sometimes more so than other times. Goodbye Tsugumi is actually one of the more realistic books. It is funny in a grim way, especially if you have the kind of sense of humour that is able to deal with black humour. I wouldn’t recommend Goodbye Tsugumi to just anyone, though. It is sometimes difficult and heavy to read, and I had to struggle to finish it. Maria gets a lot of flashbacks and sometimes Tsugumi’s complaining and rudeness just gets plain tiring. Goodbye Tsugumi shouldn’t be taken too lightly. It handles huge topics like life and death, love and loss in an almost poetic way.

It was worth finishing.


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