‘Blood and Water’ by Banana Yoshimoto

Delicacy is something I have come to appreciate more and more in fiction. Not necessarily delicate subjects, but a light authorial touch and I find myself returning again to Banana Yoshimoto. In much of Yoshimoto’s early fiction, love is given an unerringly positive place in the world she creates and has the power to offer both giver and receiver intense spiritual healing. In the case of ‘Blood and Water’ this power is literal, in the form of an amulet gifted to Chikako from Akira, but it is the gentle care he shows her which provides the greatest protection against her fear of loneliness. Yoshimoto’s work is often filled with the Japanese aesthetic of effervescence: objects perish or are lost, exchanging hands and living many different lives. Impermanence, Yoshimoto tells us, only sharpens our experiences, and love is no different. It’s loss is not to be feared, it is simply a gift to help us “forget, for a brief while, the sorrow that clings to life”. (HC)

Published in Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto, Faber and Faber, 1995

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