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Traditional Tropes and Familial Incest in Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen
CUEAGA Conference (2005)
  • Michele Gibney

Kitchen, written in 1983, by Banana Yoshimoto, contains one novella and one short story. The novella is entitled Kitchen and the short story which follows it is called Moonlight Shadow. In Moonlight Shadow, the structure of a Japanese Noh drama enfolds, wherein the ultimate end of the main character is to live on in a semi-incestuous relationship with her dead boyfriend’s brother. In Kitchen, the images that one is assailed by are those of desire coexisting with food, and love contingent on incest. The idea of food as a comfort conflates into that of a woman as comforting.

These two stories are very different in plot, but highly similar thematically—both concern the process of mourning for a loved one, and both offer a distinct tendency to offer a pseudo-incestuous relationship as the means by which one will overcome sadness. In this way, the two stories display a particularity for expressing a post-nuclear, post-modern family structure which can accommodate the shifting sexual boundaries of the teenage misfits unsure of both their identities and that of their “family” or lovers. Taking into account the semi-radical solution of incest within the context of this (admittedly) slightly juvenile, but egregiously criticized author, I plan on showing the traditional values to which Banana Yoshimoto assuredly clings in Kitchen. Traditional culture is transmitted and transformed both in her usage of conventional literary tropes—poetical allusion and Noh dramatic structures—as well as her redefining the state of the family as the space in which one finds, not only familial, but also romantic love.

  • Banana Yoshimoto,
  • Asian literature,
  • Noh drama,
  • incest,
  • romantic love
Publication Date
February 25, 2005
Citation Information
Michele Gibney. "Traditional Tropes and Familial Incest in Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen" CUEAGA Conference (2005)
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