Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Banana Yoshimoto

From an Amazon Q & A with Banana Yoshimoto about her novel, The Lake:

Q: Facing difficulties with courage is one of the themes of your latest novel, The Lake. In it the character Nakajima is struggling to overcome sometimes paralyzing emotional trauma that stems from a very unusual ordeal. What compelled you to tell this story?

A: In this novel, I indirectly took up the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, which was the biggest news at the time I was writing. Having heard the words of sorrow from the parents whose children had been abducted and who still had no promise of getting their children back, I created a fable of my own, with my own ideas, in my own way. I also looked into the lives of the children who had been in the cult called Aum Shinrikyo (Aleph) and I thought about their immeasurable trauma as well.

Q: The Lake is, among other things, an unconventional love story, and it makes you question the definition(s) of “romantic love.” How do you define it?

A: The relationship between the main characters of this novel falls far short of romantic love. They are only supporting and leaning on each other, because they would crumble otherwise.

On the other hand, you could say that they are definitely the one and only couple for each other in a way, because wounded people can best be understood by others with the same wounds. Perhaps, they believe that they have the deepest possible bond and mutually feel each is the only person the other can trust. This is one of the most passionate emotions, I guess. By visiting the holy people in the precincts of the Lake, they are entering the world of the subconscious.

Q: Though she has her doubtful moments, and is certainly no push-over (especially when it comes to artistic integrity), Chihiro is almost unfailingly conciliatory and optimistic--a worthy heroine in these cynical times. Who was the inspiration for her character?

A: The character of Nakajima had been the central figure from the beginning, so I thought...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue