Banana Yoshimoto has been a long time favorite author of mine and her latest novella, The Lake, doesn't disappoint. The story is first person, told from the point of view of Chihiro, a young woman who has just lost her mother and is feeling rootless. She encounters a needy and usual man named Nakajima, who has also lost his parents and this commonality seals their bond. They carve out a life together that is stunted emotionally and is hovered by a dark secret.
Much of the story has a hint of something not quite right and potentially sinister. Yoshimoto does a great job creating a slow build to a shocking reveal in the end. The story is just plain creepy and left me feeling out of sorts.
The reason I love Yoshimoto so much, is she has a talent for writing simply. She is direct, but in a way that doesn't sacrifice the subtext. She creates complex characters with intense motivations. I also love how her books are always exactly the right length to tell the story. I never feel that her stories could have benefitted from ruthless editing. She knows what to add and what to cut, something that I think is difficult for even the most gifted writers and editors.
On a personal level, I connected to many of the emotions that the characters feel in the book, with particular regard to rootlessness and loss of parents. These characters are in an intense period of transition and feeling uncertainty and panic. Yoshimoto captures this perfectly.