July 24, 1964 |
Yoshimoto was born in Tokyo on July 24, 1964. Her father is the famous poet and critic Takaaki Yoshimoto, and her sister, Haruno Yoiko, is a well-known cartoonist in Japan. She grew up in a liberal family.
She graduated from Nihon University's Art College, majoring in literature. During that time, she took the pseudonym "Banana" after her love of banana flowers, a name she recognizes as both "cute" and "purposefully androgynous."
Yoshimoto keeps her personal life guarded, and reveals little about her certified Rolfing practitioner husband, Hiroyoshi Tahata and son (born in 2003). Each day she takes half an hour to write at her computer, and she says, "I tend to feel guilty because I write these stories almost for fun." She keeps an on-line journal for English-speaking fans.
Yoshimoto began her writing career while working as a waitress at a golf-club restaurant in 1987. She named American author Stephen King as one of her first major influences, and drew inspiration from his non-horror stories. As her writing progressed, she was further influenced by Truman Capote and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Her debut novel, Kitchen, was an instant success, with over sixty printings in Japan alone. There have been two films made of the story, a Japanese TV movie and a more widely released version produced in Hong Kong by Yim Ho in 1997. She won the 6th Kaien Newcomer Writers Prize in November 1987, the Umitsubame First Novel Prize, and then the 16th Izumi Kyoka Literary Prize in January 1988 for Kitchen.
Her works include 12 novels and seven collections of essays (including Pineapple Pudding and Song From Banana) which have together sold over six million copies worldwide. Her themes include love and friendship, the power of home and family, and the effect of loss on the human spirit.
Yoshimoto herself claims her two main themes to be “the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan” and “the way in which terrible experiences shape a person’s life”.
Her writings describe youth problems, urban existentialism and teenagers trapped between imagination and reality. It is targeted not only to the young and rebellious people, but also to grown-ups who still are young and lively in heart. Banana’s characters, settings and titles have a modern and American approach, but the core is extremely Japanese. One thing unique about her work is that she addresses readers in a very personal and friendly way with warmth and outright innocence. Although she had a father who followed the bible of the 60’s radical youth movement, she was able to meet great figures such as Pedro Almodóvar and she still enjoys writing about the simple things around her like the squeaking of wooden floors or the pleasant smell of food. Food and dreams of the protagonists are a recurring theme in her writings which are often associated with memories and emotions. Banana admitted that most of her artistic inspiration derives from her own dreams and that she’d like to be always sleeping and living a life full of dreams.
Yoshimoto was awarded the 39th edition Best Newcomer Artists Recommended Prize by the Minister of Education in August 1988 for Kitchen and Utakata/Sankuchuari. In March 1989, Goodbye Tsugumi was awarded the 2nd Yamamoto Shugoro Prize. In 1994 her first long novel, Amrita, was awarded the Murasaki-shikibu Prize.
Outside of Japan, she was awarded prizes in Italy: the Scanno Literary Prize in 1993, the Fendissime Literary Prize in 1996, the Literary Prize Maschera d' argento in 1999, and the Capri Award in 2011.
The Lake was longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize.
|Hardboiled & Hard Luck||1999||2005|
- "Banana Yoshimoto". Faber & Faber.
- "Banana Yoshimoto". Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Copeland, Rebecca L. Woman critiqued: translated essays on Japanese women's writing. University of Hawaii Press, 2006. p. 167. ISBN 0-8248-2958-1.
- Official Banana Yoshimoto Site
- Article from Metropolis
- Romantic Love in the Early Fiction of Banana Yoshimoto
- "Banana Yoshimoto's brand-new era" -(J-pop.com overview)