‘Moonlight Shadow’ by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Megan Backus

Usually included with Banana Yoshimoto’s zesty debut novel Kitchen, Moonlight Shadow encapsulates much of what I so admire about her writing. Though she is emotionally unguarded, her cheerfulness is often tinged with stoicism and grief. In this story a young woman recovers from the death of her boyfriend and, as is typical in Banana Yoshimoto’s work, the supernatural and natural worlds open to each other to bridge the gap between what we feel and what we understand.  

A lover should die after a long lifetime. I lost Hitoshi at the age of twenty, and I suffered from it so much that I felt as if my own life had stopped. The night he died, my soul went away to some other place and I couldn’t bring it back. It was impossible to see the world as I had before. My brain ebbed and flowed, unstable, and I passed the days in a relentless state of dull oppression.

Published in Kitchen, Faber 1997

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