#39 The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

33163219Pub month: June 2017

Hiromi Kawakami’s The Nakano Thrift Shop is a quick, idiosyncratic book. While reading it, I wondered, as I often do with books that have been translated from one language to another, what was lost or untranslatable, what cultural quirks couldn’t be conveyed adequately or precisely.

The narrative takes place within the Nakano Thrift Shop and centers on Hitomi, the naive young woman who works the counter, and around her coworker Takeo, the owner Mr. Nakano, and Nakono’s sister Masayo, plus a host of other odd characters who enter their store. A romance, if you could call it that, develops between Hitomi and Takeo but is fraught with bizarre miscommunication and is built upon unsubstantiated feelings.

There is a blatant sexual underscore to the book. Nude photos are examined matter-of-factly, an erotic text is discussed openly and plainly, a romantic tryst takes place without much heat, yet the lack of sexual or emotional connection between the two characters you are meant to feel for makes for a somewhat boring and rather lackluster read.

#7 Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

21535546

This book was passed along to me by my husband. It won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for fiction, and the fact that Francisco Goldman calls Herrera “Mexico’s greatest novelist” would suggest that the book is something quite special, a memorable read. I finished it with a “meh” and a shrug. With all the praise this book received, I was left wondering “did I miss something?!”

If you read it and loved it, I’d love to hear your thoughts…