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Herr Nakano und die Frauen

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»Wir handeln nicht mit Antiquitäten, wir handeln mit Trödel«, sagt Herr Nakano zu Hitomi, die sich um eine Aushilfsstelle in seinem Laden bewirbt. Der eigenwillige Nakano, ein Herr alter Schule, liebt neben schönen alten Dingen auch schöne junge Frauen. Sein Geschäft, eine Enklave in der hektischen Innenstadt Tokios, wird zum Treffpunkt liebenswert-skurriler Zeitgenossen. »Wir handeln nicht mit Antiquitäten, wir handeln mit Trödel«, sagt Herr Nakano zu Hitomi, die sich um eine Aushilfsstelle in seinem Laden bewirbt. Der eigenwillige Nakano, ein Herr alter Schule, liebt neben schönen alten Dingen auch schöne junge Frauen. Sein Geschäft, eine Enklave in der hektischen Innenstadt Tokios, wird zum Treffpunkt liebenswert-skurriler Zeitgenossen. Hier kommen sich zwischen Nudelimbiss und Nacktfotos auch die junge Verkäuferin Hitomi und der Laufbursche Takeo allmählich näher. Doch westliche Einflüsse und aggressive Geschäftsmethoden machen vor Herrn Nakanos altmodischem Laden nicht halt.


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»Wir handeln nicht mit Antiquitäten, wir handeln mit Trödel«, sagt Herr Nakano zu Hitomi, die sich um eine Aushilfsstelle in seinem Laden bewirbt. Der eigenwillige Nakano, ein Herr alter Schule, liebt neben schönen alten Dingen auch schöne junge Frauen. Sein Geschäft, eine Enklave in der hektischen Innenstadt Tokios, wird zum Treffpunkt liebenswert-skurriler Zeitgenossen. »Wir handeln nicht mit Antiquitäten, wir handeln mit Trödel«, sagt Herr Nakano zu Hitomi, die sich um eine Aushilfsstelle in seinem Laden bewirbt. Der eigenwillige Nakano, ein Herr alter Schule, liebt neben schönen alten Dingen auch schöne junge Frauen. Sein Geschäft, eine Enklave in der hektischen Innenstadt Tokios, wird zum Treffpunkt liebenswert-skurriler Zeitgenossen. Hier kommen sich zwischen Nudelimbiss und Nacktfotos auch die junge Verkäuferin Hitomi und der Laufbursche Takeo allmählich näher. Doch westliche Einflüsse und aggressive Geschäftsmethoden machen vor Herrn Nakanos altmodischem Laden nicht halt.

30 review for Herr Nakano und die Frauen

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I think I expected something more whimsical, maybe even a hint of magical realism in this, from the way it's described. But it's a pretty plain story told by a pretty plain narrator; in fact she has virtually no personality which is probably why I could never really get into it. It's a quiet story about a woman who works in a second-hand shop, under the employment of a sort of eccentric playboy, Mr. Nakano. She's in love with her co-worker, friends with her boss's sister, and generally a pretty I think I expected something more whimsical, maybe even a hint of magical realism in this, from the way it's described. But it's a pretty plain story told by a pretty plain narrator; in fact she has virtually no personality which is probably why I could never really get into it. It's a quiet story about a woman who works in a second-hand shop, under the employment of a sort of eccentric playboy, Mr. Nakano. She's in love with her co-worker, friends with her boss's sister, and generally a pretty uninteresting person. I didn't hate this but wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    I adore this writer. She is appealing in a very individualistic, particular, introverted Japanese way that is reminiscent of Murakami's works yet entirely and uniquely her own. I mention Murakami only because the authors share enough similarity in their character types and their descriptions of the small, mundane rituals of daily life that it deserves an NB: if you love Murakami's quirky characters and his descriptions of cooking "simple meals" and having "nice long talks", you will find much to I adore this writer. She is appealing in a very individualistic, particular, introverted Japanese way that is reminiscent of Murakami's works yet entirely and uniquely her own. I mention Murakami only because the authors share enough similarity in their character types and their descriptions of the small, mundane rituals of daily life that it deserves an NB: if you love Murakami's quirky characters and his descriptions of cooking "simple meals" and having "nice long talks", you will find much to love about Kawakami. Otherwise, her writing will probably make you want to toss your book into a pot of boiling spaghetti, as you cook your nice, simple meal. This is only the second book I've read of Kawakami's, the first being Strange Weather in Tokyo, and I am looking forward to reading all of those which have been translated into English. (I have just begun Manazuru too.) This one is a simple coming-of-age story about a young Japanese woman who works at at thrift shop, and the three people who share her life during this time: Takeo, her young co-worker for whom she develops a passion; Mr. Nakano, the philosophical and philandering shop owner; and Masayo, Mr. Nakano's sister who is a charming and rather endearing mediocre artist. The characters are all so interesting in a quiet, quirky, never-fully-revealed way. The two younger ones are in a state of almost constant bewilderment about themselves, each other, and everyone else around them. Plot spoiler: uh ... oh wait ... not needed. There is no plot, y'all. Just read it anyway. Who needs plots? I hate em myself. ;)

  3. 4 out of 5

    FotisK

    3,5/5 Είναι ευκολότερο να γράψεις πολλά και εν τω μέσω να γράψεις και καλά. Αλλά είναι σαφώς δυσκολότερο να γράψεις λίγα και ποιοτικά. Ενίοτε, αν δεν είσαι ο Τολστόι ή ο Προυστ, είναι σχεδόν ακατόρθωτο να τιθασεύσεις την ποσότητα και να την μεταστοιχειώσεις σε ποιότητα. Και αντίθετα, αν δεν είσαι Μπόρχες, Χέμινγουεϊ ή Κάρβερ, η ποσότητά σου, η έλλειψή της εν προκειμένω, δεν συνεπάγεται αυτόματα και ποιότητα. Η αφαίρεση είναι δίκοπο μαχαίρι που ενίοτε στρέφεται εις βάρος του δημιουργού, καθώς υπό 3,5/5 Είναι ευκολότερο να γράψεις πολλά και εν τω μέσω να γράψεις και καλά. Αλλά είναι σαφώς δυσκολότερο να γράψεις λίγα και ποιοτικά. Ενίοτε, αν δεν είσαι ο Τολστόι ή ο Προυστ, είναι σχεδόν ακατόρθωτο να τιθασεύσεις την ποσότητα και να την μεταστοιχειώσεις σε ποιότητα. Και αντίθετα, αν δεν είσαι Μπόρχες, Χέμινγουεϊ ή Κάρβερ, η ποσότητά σου, η έλλειψή της εν προκειμένω, δεν συνεπάγεται αυτόματα και ποιότητα. Η αφαίρεση είναι δίκοπο μαχαίρι που ενίοτε στρέφεται εις βάρος του δημιουργού, καθώς υπό το κάλυμμά της ελλοχεύει η ανία– του αναγνώστη πρώτιστα. Θέλει μεγάλη τέχνη η απόσταξη, η αφαίρεση του περιττού και η απόδοση του ουσιώδους. Να υπονοείς, να ελίσσεσαι λεκτικά, να απεχθάνεσαι το προφανές, την πρόδηλη σκέψη, την άκριτη δράση. Να προτιμάς την απουσία της, να αφήνεις τις σιωπές να μιλήσουν, να υποβάλλουν -και ουχί να επιβάλλουν- ατμόσφαιρα. Και οι Ιάπωνες (στη λογοτεχνία, και στο σινεμά ομού) είναι μάστορες σε αυτή την τέχνη. Εν προκειμένω τώρα, το μικρό αυτό μυθιστόρημα διαθέτει όλες τις προαναφερθείσες αρετές. Αυτό που θέλει, το επιτυγχάνει, καθώς η συγγραφέας έχει δουλέψει επισταμένα το υλικό της. Η ίδια η ιστορία δεν είναι κάτι το ιδιαίτερο, το σημαντικό κι ούτε θα μπορούσε βέβαια, καθότι η αστική καθημερινότητα (ιδίως σε χώρες όπως η Ιαπωνία) ως επί το πλείστον κινείται "ανεπαίσχυντα και ειρηνικά" μεταξύ μικρών διαλλειμάτων έντασης και όχι το αντίθετο. Εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσα είναι η -καθόλου τυχαία- χρήση κάποιων συγκεκριμένων αντικειμένων ως τίτλοι των κεφαλαίων. Το αντικείμενο (ένα μπολ, ένα φόρεμα κ.ο.κ.) μετατρέπεται σε σύμβολο, αποκτά ουσία και νόημα διαφορετικό από το αρχικό του, καθώς συνδέεται με ένα συναίσθημα, μια φευγαλέα σκέψη, ακόμα και μια ανατροπή στην ψυχοσύνθεση των ηρώων. Προφανώς πρόκειται περί μανιέρας, η οποία κάποιους θα τους αγγίξει και ακόμα περισσότερους όχι, καθότι το ύφος έχει σημασία εδώ περισσότερο από αλλού. Εξ ου και η μικρή δική μου ένσταση: Είχα την αίσθηση, σε όλη τη διάρκειά του, πως το βιβλίο πάσχει από έλλειψη πρωτοτυπίας. Πιστεύω πως χρειαζόταν κάτι περισσότερο για να στηρίξει το όλο οικοδόμημα και αυτό το "κάτι" το εντοπίζω στην τέχνη της συγγραφέως. Εντούτοις, δεν είναι δυνατόν να την κατηγορήσω γιατί δεν είναι η "Ιάπωνας Κάρβερ". Θα ήταν άδικο γι' αυτήν. Το "The Nakano thrift shop" μου άφησε, ολοκληρώνοντάς το, μια όμορφη επίγευση, αυτή την καθαρά ασιατική αίσθηση χαρμολύπης.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    On a suburban street in Tokyo lies a quaint little shop called "The Nakano Thrift Shop", that is home for all the nick nacks you could ever want. But while what can be found inside is wondrous, it is the lives of those that work there that is the most fascinating. The store's owner, Mr Nakano for one is on his 3rd marriage, has 3 children, and spends his time working and spending time with his lovers or as he calls them "the Bank". His sister Masayo is also a hopeless romantic who think she has On a suburban street in Tokyo lies a quaint little shop called "The Nakano Thrift Shop", that is home for all the nick nacks you could ever want. But while what can be found inside is wondrous, it is the lives of those that work there that is the most fascinating. The store's owner, Mr Nakano for one is on his 3rd marriage, has 3 children, and spends his time working and spending time with his lovers or as he calls them "the Bank". His sister Masayo is also a hopeless romantic who think she has found love in her new beau, Maruyama. Recently hired Hitomi on the other hands spends awkward moments advancing and retreating in love with fellow employee Takeo. The group of them share a bond built on their loves and a subtle loyalty the store. The narrator Hitomi is naive and almost transcendental as she interprets the relationships around her. It is these expositions by Hitomi that is the meat of the story along with the dreamy look at contemporary Japanese life with the smells of the food, to the customs interlocking brilliantly. This is a story that will gently embrace you and guide you along an enchanting journey of emotion that is both therapeutic and divine. With gentle humor and a lot of heart, The Nakano Thrift Shop is well worth a read for anyone, not put off by a slow read and want's to be swept away.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sara J. (kefuwa)

    Enjoyed this a bit more than Strange Weather in Tokyo. Another interesting slice-of-life type book. I swear reading translated works allows you insight into stuff you never thought you needed insight in. The way some words defy direct translations into other languages. How you need a string of sentences to convey what that one word actually means. As I read it over the work week though I may have missed a lot of things/quotable quotes as I tend to skim on the surface and my inner monologue somet Enjoyed this a bit more than Strange Weather in Tokyo. Another interesting slice-of-life type book. I swear reading translated works allows you insight into stuff you never thought you needed insight in. The way some words defy direct translations into other languages. How you need a string of sentences to convey what that one word actually means. As I read it over the work week though I may have missed a lot of things/quotable quotes as I tend to skim on the surface and my inner monologue sometimes gets away before my brain manages to catch up to what is going on. Anyway. I think Japanese books have a very subtle touch to them, vague and somewhat (do I dare say it?) wishy-washy in parts. I think I have mentioned it before that I am a big fan of slice of life anime... how mundane, everyday things and tasks somehow take on a light, airy almost dreamlike "weight" to them. If you don't have the heart to appreciate it you will probably find it really pointless, boring & droll. But overall I like it and will probably continue to seek out more of the same.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alison Smith

    A contemporary Japanese novel written by an award winning female writer. As ever, I finished the novel, feeling somewhat baffled - such is the nature of Japanese fiction : oblique, dreamlike, enigmatic, subtle. I enjoyed the book, but ... If you want to dip your toes into the strange waters of Japanese fiction, give this one a try. The characters are very engaging - this much I can say. And there are passages where a trivial, daily detail is described beautifully - a sort of verbal still-life, perh A contemporary Japanese novel written by an award winning female writer. As ever, I finished the novel, feeling somewhat baffled - such is the nature of Japanese fiction : oblique, dreamlike, enigmatic, subtle. I enjoyed the book, but ... If you want to dip your toes into the strange waters of Japanese fiction, give this one a try. The characters are very engaging - this much I can say. And there are passages where a trivial, daily detail is described beautifully - a sort of verbal still-life, perhaps. I've said enough. Read it for yourself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    A very quiet, simple novel about the everyday. Full review HERE , but for now I will just say that this is book is just SO JAPANESE.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    Mr. Nakano's Trinkets Shop "On a commercial street in a suburb of Tokyo, there was a seemingly trivial trinkets shop. But here, in a space with nostalgic scent, a succession of betrayed or unfulfilled love stories are weaved with refinement and subtlety. Nakano a late middle age man, owner of the shop, currently in his third marriage and third child with third wife, longs for something undefined and divides his life between his beloved shop and his temporary lovers he meets at the standard Japane Mr. Nakano's Trinkets Shop "On a commercial street in a suburb of Tokyo, there was a seemingly trivial trinkets shop. But here, in a space with nostalgic scent, a succession of betrayed or unfulfilled love stories are weaved with refinement and subtlety. Nakano a late middle age man, owner of the shop, currently in his third marriage and third child with third wife, longs for something undefined and divides his life between his beloved shop and his temporary lovers he meets at the standard Japanese "love hotels". His sister Masayo, is also looking for love, while young Hitomi, hired by Nakano and at the same time, the novel's narrator, has a strange relationship, marked by advances and retreats, with Takeo, another shop employee. All these stories of contemporary life in Japan, are imbued with melancholy and delicate world building which is for the European reader both strange and familiar, because beyond local color, they talk about what is deeply human in all of us" An easy but enchanting and entertaining novel about the travails of a few characters connected to the title store as noted in the blurb; the naive and somewhat otherworldly narrator Hitomi is really enchanting and through her voice we meet the always entertaining Nakano, the sullen, shy and confused Takeo (the on and off love story between Takeo and Hitomi is maybe the weakest part of the book as Hitomi's insistence in pursuing Takeo after a few dates becomes a bit annoying, though by the epilogue several years later when they both mature, things get to a sort of conclusion), the boisterous Masayo, Nakano's sister and co-owner and her recent beau, the "retirement divorced" Maruyama (in Japan quite a few couples divorce when the man retires as the wife finds out she cannot stand having her husband always at home), Nakao's strong willed and elegant current lover Sakiko, a used books store owner, a few regulars and always the objects that come into the store, their stories and owners. The book is structured in chapters generally about an object - the bowl, the paper weight, the envelope, the sewing machine - that comes into the store or is related to it, though they are chronological and form a coherent story not a vignette like one. Another book I couldn't put down when I started it, very different from the other two books i read from the author - if Manazuru is a very emotional book which will disturb, this one is an enchanting one which will ease one's spirit - but quite highly recommended and one to pick when it will hopefully get translated into English too

  9. 4 out of 5

    Simona

    Rating: 4/5 || Recenzia pe Secretele Cărților Prăvălia cu mărunțișuri După ce am descoperit-o pe Hiromi Kawakami mai bine în cărțile Cele zece iubiri ale lui Nishino și Vreme ciudată la Tokio, am dorit să pătrund și în universul pe care autoarea l-a creat în Prăvălia de mărunțișuri a domnului Nakano. Ce carte straniu de simplă! Așa cum m-au obișnuit autorii japonezi, și de această dată am avut parte de un limbaj simplu, de o poveste firească, dar plină de sentimente jucăușe și caracteristice japone Rating: 4/5 || Recenzia pe Secretele Cărților Prăvălia cu mărunțișuri După ce am descoperit-o pe Hiromi Kawakami mai bine în cărțile Cele zece iubiri ale lui Nishino și Vreme ciudată la Tokio, am dorit să pătrund și în universul pe care autoarea l-a creat în Prăvălia de mărunțișuri a domnului Nakano. Ce carte straniu de simplă! Așa cum m-au obișnuit autorii japonezi, și de această dată am avut parte de un limbaj simplu, de o poveste firească, dar plină de sentimente jucăușe și caracteristice japonezilor. Protagonistul nostru, domnul Nakano, deține o prăvălie în care strânge toate lucrurile de care alți oameni se lipsesc. Astfel, această prăvălie este o aglomerație de mărunțișuri pe care domnul Nakano le cumpără pe te miri ce prețuri, și dorește mai apoi să le vândă mai departe (presupunându-se că ar fi oameni care să cumpere variatele chițibușuri pe care el le strânge). Nelipsitele povești de dragoste Cu toate că povestea se țese în jurul domnului Nakano, narațiunea este făcută din perspectiva lui Hitomi, o tânără angajată la prăvălia de mărunțișuri. Cu o voce plăcută, aceasta ne apropie de prăvălia ticsită de fleacuri și de personajele care își duc veacul pe acolo sau despre care doar auzim. Alături de Hitomi îi avem pe Masayo, sora domnului Nakano, pe Takeo și pe doamna Maruyama, o femeie divorțată de soțul ei după pensionarea acestuia. Mi-a plăcut că și din această carte am aflat unele detalii despre cultura japoneză, eu fiind fascinată de orice aflu despre locuitorii din Japonia. În Țara Soarelui Răsare, după ce bărbații ies la pensie, există situații când femeile doresc să divorțeze de aceștia întrucât nu se pot învăța cu prezența lor îndelungată acasă. Nu știam de acest așa zis divorț la pensie și este un concept interesant, care ar putea avea o oarecare logică când stai să îl analizezi mai bine. Cu o subtilitate aparte, am asistat și la o poveste de dragoste un pic trasă de păr, Hitomi și timidul Takeo fiind inculpații care de abia spre final ne vor oferi un verdict clar. Domnul Nakano ne oferă și el zvonuri despre posibilele sale iubite (una sau mai multe), rotunjind astfel romantismul cărții. Nu am fost extrem de impresionată de subiectul sau personajele cărții (precum am fost la celelalte cărți ale autoarei), însă am simțit o stare de liniște și amuzament. Am fost transportată în prăvălia prăfuită și ticsită de nimicuri a domnului Nakano, și mi-aș fi dorit să petrec mai mult timp acolo, pentru a analiza lucruril de care alți oameni au dorit să se descotororească. Fiecare obiect în parte venea cu o poveste unică, iar în capitolele cărții chiar au avut în centru unele obiecte ale prăvăliei. Pentru toți fanii autorilor japonezi, recomand această lectură care te lipește de întortocherea personajelor care își duc viața în interiorul unei prăvălii ticsite cu nimicuri. Veți mai sufla din când în când praful depus pe mărunțișurile din jur, în timp ce le aflați povestea. Citate: "— Asta nu te scoate din sărite? l-am întrebat eu odată. Ridicând ușor colțul gurii, Takeo mi-a răspuns: — Și dacă mă enervează, o să se schimbe ceva? — Adică cum «o să se schimbe»? am continuat eu cu întrebările. — Tu nu înțelegi așa ceva, Hitomi, a zâmbit Takeo. Ție-ți plac cărțile. Mintea ta e complicată. A mea e simplă." (p.13) "Takeo îi spune pisicii Mimi. Uneori mi se pare că glasul cu care strigă «Mimi» e mai cald decât cel cu care spune «Hitomi»." (p.117)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sean Farrell

    I loved Strange Weather in Tokyo, but found this book by the same author quite appalling. Dull, aimless, the characters irritating, it was a real chore to get to the end. Haven't been this disappointed for quite a while...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karmologyclinic

    Naturalism is nothing new nor is slice of life genre. But leave it to Japan to take something and make it its own. Slice of life anime is my favorite type of anime, I can get lost in no action, under the magnifying lens of the genre that focuses so much on the quotidian that makes it look unreal. The same is achieved with Kawakami's book. It's a brilliant slice of life of The Nakano Thrift Shop (nothing hiding in the title, I love when things are literal). The low page count doesn't mean you shou Naturalism is nothing new nor is slice of life genre. But leave it to Japan to take something and make it its own. Slice of life anime is my favorite type of anime, I can get lost in no action, under the magnifying lens of the genre that focuses so much on the quotidian that makes it look unreal. The same is achieved with Kawakami's book. It's a brilliant slice of life of The Nakano Thrift Shop (nothing hiding in the title, I love when things are literal). The low page count doesn't mean you should read it fast, I didn't, though you can. But, time is essential here, time to think and meditate on the subtleties of empty space, of unspoken words, of inaction, of no-extraordinary characters. More things are hidden in what is not being said, than shown here. And more feeling can come out through the use of language by Kawakami, than by explaining the aforementioned feelings (you will not get explanations for anything in this book, you'll have to infer content based on Hitomi, the main character's narration). For example, in this book I have found the best descriptions of awkwardness, otherwordliness and feeling like you don't belong in the moment, and yet, not described, inferred by the narration of what is going on in Hitomi's mind. Mechanically I nodded. Mechanically I took the croissants out of the bag, mechanically I made some black tea, mechanically I brought the croissants to my lips, mechanically I chewed and swallowed. Takeo must have really been angry, I murmured into the air. But why—what was he angry about? I could keep muttering, there would be no answer. Without my noticing, Mr. Nakano and Masayo had disappeared. A customer came in and I called out a greeting. Mechanically the sun went down. When I checked the record on the register, it said the total for the day had been 53,750 yen. I had no memory of ringing up that much in sales. Cold air blew in from the entrance to the shop. I went to close the glass door, mechanically moving towards the front. The writing reminded me of embroidery. Words and themes picked carefully and stitched together. Each chapter has the title of an item, for example paperweight (brilliant chapter by the way) and the word is assigned an embroidery thread and is stitched all over the chapter, literally, metaphorically, symbolically. Mundane actions, like fingering the faded pink fringe that was glued to the belt of the dress are so focused on that they become powerful actions equal to screaming. Screaming is something a japanese person would avoid at any cost in his everyday life. Instead there are the assertive soudesunes and the sousous and the nes and the hontous that fill up what is never being said. I found myself trying to translate what they said in japanese and that didn't improve my reading speed at all, obviously, but it also made me think that so many details are lost in translation and to someone not accustomed with japanese formal and informal speaking and would leave someone puzzled over the difference between responding to someone with a hai (formal yes) instead with a soudesune (that's so, isn'tit) and why would the writer include that. Digression aside, I think a little bit of understanding of japanese culture would help to comprehend the book, but is not obligatory. What is obligatory though, is doing some work as a reader, let the bland characters (are they really that bland? so many things happen in Hitomi's mind), the silence (filled with thoughts), the absence of action (as important as action) tell the story. Let Kawakami tell the story through her meditative writing: Could Takeo have died on the side of a road? That would serve him right! I thought at the idea of such a thing. But my smugness was soon dampened by the realization of how troublesome it was, just to feel that way—how troublesome it was, really, just to be alive. I wanted nothing to do with love! I wanted the stiffness in my shoulders to go away. I could probably put a bit of money into savings this month. These thoughts drifted by one by one, like tiny bubbles. The flowers I had put in the vase looked as though they were artificial. And yet the ones in the mayonnaise jar looked like normal, real flowers. I put the sketch back, under the envelope. I wondered if a computer-related company would have more computers around. Computers are rectangular. Microwaves are rectangular too. And the gas heater that we had been using when I left the Nakano shop was rectangular too, wasn’t it? These incoherent thoughts went through my mind as I took off my stockings and crumpled them into a ball.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I absolutely adored how this was written. It was described in the bookshop as a Japanese 'Amelie', and that was so right. I love how episodic it was, and how Kawakami introduced the characters and took the narrative along. It reminded me of 'This Should be Written in the Present Tense' by Helle Helle, and I'd really like to read more Kawakami and translated lit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mobyskine

    A daily slice of life story surrounding the thrift shop owned by Haruo Nakano, told by a narrator Hitomi Suganuma-- the shop assistant. Pretty daring, like just how Mr Nakano said about Tadokoro and Sumiko. The narrative feels so nostalgic and classic, portraying the Nakanos sibling aura-- they love things with tradition. The story telling was fun to read. Hitomi's way of saying things and expressing thoughts were kind of naive but I find it very charming. I like the part when Hitomi imagining s A daily slice of life story surrounding the thrift shop owned by Haruo Nakano, told by a narrator Hitomi Suganuma-- the shop assistant. Pretty daring, like just how Mr Nakano said about Tadokoro and Sumiko. The narrative feels so nostalgic and classic, portraying the Nakanos sibling aura-- they love things with tradition. The story telling was fun to read. Hitomi's way of saying things and expressing thoughts were kind of naive but I find it very charming. I like the part when Hitomi imagining stuff on why Takeo did not answer her calls-- she sounded so innocent. The siblings-- Masayo Nakano, she was like the apple for the plot, she completes the team. And Haruo Nakano-- his way of telling story was my favorite moment. He usually never finished it all at once, always half of it and Hitomi needs to wait for another time to know the ending. I like how his relationship goes with both Hitomi and Takeo. He seems so caring but also quite strict. Takeo Kiryu was a bit mysterious-- stagnant, seems emotionless, sensitive, a kind that will make you worried about hurting his feelings. The combination of them all four really complementing each other. The flow of story captured in shot of chapters that feels like reading a short story in between a novel. Unique and quirky. It was structured well from first to last chapter, loving the writing style and phrases-- I found it very melodious and calm, even at certain hectic scene it was still so simple yet extraordinary. It might be a bit lascivious, few part written with lustful intention so one might feels a bit uncomfortable with it. But I think it helps the development of the plot cause it relates with both relationship and love story of each characters. Reading this honestly making me hungry sometimes-- lemon pie, cherry pie, chicken bento, yakisoba even a bowl of rice that Takeo polished it off with crispy vinegar-ed chicken skin and pickles making me sighed hungrily. Towards the end the plot shifted to melancholy mode, though a bit sadness occurred yet the memories of the thrift shop playing a big role in making me sticking till the end. It was so beautifully lyrical, pulling me inside each phrases like I was there as well being a part of the shop throughout its journey. I love the last chapter a lot. Hug her tightly, Takeo!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This is the type of book that pretty much all my friends would expect me to hate, but that I always love. A slice of life novel, more on the humorous than serious side and with little to no plot. Strange for someone who is usually found reading horror or fantasy… What got me started into Japanese literature in the first place was a love of anime, and while yes, when I was younger I delighted in Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop as much as pretty much as all my teenage friends did, the sort of anime This is the type of book that pretty much all my friends would expect me to hate, but that I always love. A slice of life novel, more on the humorous than serious side and with little to no plot. Strange for someone who is usually found reading horror or fantasy… What got me started into Japanese literature in the first place was a love of anime, and while yes, when I was younger I delighted in Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop as much as pretty much as all my teenage friends did, the sort of anime that stuck with me the longest were things like Azumanga Daioh and Genshiken. Both of those could be argued to have a plot in a loose sense (Genshiken more so than Azumanga), but both were pretty much just 20 minute snippets into the lives of these characters. This book is pretty much the same thing, and I love that. It is very train of thought, borderline rambling at times, but always following a cohesive thought process… some of these thought processes are just wonderful. This is a book that is filled with great and truly genuine moments. For example, there is a scene where our narrator thinks that cellphones are a curse in terms of romance. We’re given technology to allow us instant communication at any time, but when texts aren’t responded to immediately, or the phone isn’t picked up during a call, what sort of excuses run through our heads? There is another great moment where a jerk of a landlord places near impossible to remove stickers on the doors of his renters whenever they park or go near his garden. It is the sort of humorous small pettiness that is both ridiculous and completely believable. The structure of the book is very episodic. Each chapter could be a short story (or to keep with my earlier reminiscing, an episode of an anime), in which focuses on a different object that comes into the store, and how our cast reacts to it and the story tied to it. We do get character development from these moments, but to say that it follows a true story would be more than a slight exaggeration. The characters are of the love it or hate it variety. Some readers will be truly annoyed by their vague responses and rather shallow moments. Frankly it reminded me uncomfortably of my 20s (although our narrator is apparently in her early 30s), in that they don't know where they are going or what they want from life. They are directionless and to an extent trying not to grow up. One character even openly refers to herself as a girl rather than a woman, much to the amusement of one of the older ladies, who asks her when the age cutoff for such a term is. As I said, to some their vagueness will be annoying (Drinking game idea! Every time a character vaguely says "I see" rather than actually responding take a shot... no wait, don't do that, you will probably die), but it seemed a little too close to home at times for me. All in all, this is a great slice of life novel. Warm-hearted, funny and with those little moments that you shake your head and wonder if they are based on real life. Not truly a great novel, and certainly not for everyone, but highly satisfactory in my mind. A solid 4 out of 5 stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I have nothing against slice-of-life type novels, especially translated ones (because who isn't curious about what other people in different countries eat and do and think?), but The Nakano Thrift Shop took me well over a week to get through. Sleeping was always more attractive than reading a few more pages. Each chapter centers around a different object that comes into the thrift store (a life-sized cardboard cut out of a former star, a celadon bowl, a lighter shaped like a pistol), but the sto I have nothing against slice-of-life type novels, especially translated ones (because who isn't curious about what other people in different countries eat and do and think?), but The Nakano Thrift Shop took me well over a week to get through. Sleeping was always more attractive than reading a few more pages. Each chapter centers around a different object that comes into the thrift store (a life-sized cardboard cut out of a former star, a celadon bowl, a lighter shaped like a pistol), but the storyline with the shop's employees is continuous. The problem is that none of them - especially the narrator Hitomi - is very interesting. They have love affairs. They fall out of them. They eat noodles. They wait for people to come into the store. They venture into the foreign land of online auctions. There were a couple of things I liked a lot in here. In one scene, Hitomi curses cell phones because they enable instant communication...and are stubbornly silent when a lover fails to call or text (and one can only make up so many excuses why). In another, an overzealous landlord protecting his garden has pre-printed, difficult to remove stickers to plaster upon the bikes of anyone who dares leave one in the garden. Alas, these moments of quirky wisdom and keen observation are sandwiched between lots of shop talk and emotional waffling. I finished it. I guess that says something.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Roxana Chirilă

    Păi, așa deci. E o carte în care nu se întâmplă mare lucru. Domnul Nakano are o prăvălie de mărunțișuri, doi angajați, o soră, o nevastă pe care n-o vedem și (cel puțin) o amantă. Și un tic verbal: „Păi, așa deci,” cu care își începe deseori discuțiile. Mai vin oameni să vândă obiecte, mai vin oameni să le cumpere - micile povești, cu tot felul de ciudățenii, sunt cele care dau farmecul cărții. Nu curg liniar. Uneori o poveste se întrerupe la mijloc, nitam-nisam, pentru a se povesti alta, mai vec Păi, așa deci. E o carte în care nu se întâmplă mare lucru. Domnul Nakano are o prăvălie de mărunțișuri, doi angajați, o soră, o nevastă pe care n-o vedem și (cel puțin) o amantă. Și un tic verbal: „Păi, așa deci,” cu care își începe deseori discuțiile. Mai vin oameni să vândă obiecte, mai vin oameni să le cumpere - micile povești, cu tot felul de ciudățenii, sunt cele care dau farmecul cărții. Nu curg liniar. Uneori o poveste se întrerupe la mijloc, nitam-nisam, pentru a se povesti alta, mai veche, la care tocmai se gândea un personaj. După care, o pagină mai încolo, după un rând gol ca să nu te încurci prea tare între trecut și prezent, se reia prima poveste din mijlocul dialogului. Poveștile m-au lăsat uneori mască, alteori m-au făcut să râd cu voce tare - au un farmec aparte și o spontaneitate interesantă. Chiar dacă am avut senzația că personajele nu comunică foarte bine și că sunt destul de singure (și e o senzație pe care o am des când citesc literatură japoneză...), senzația pe care mi-a creat-o atmosfera a fost mai degrabă una veselă și însorită decât tristă.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    hmm... so, while this story had its moments, overall it all felt very flat to me, the story and the characters. i did quite like masayo - sister of the thrift shop owner, mr. nakano. masayo was layered, and interesting; the story was more lively when she was in any scene.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stacia

    Charming, quirky, & unassuming.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Magen

    Writing a review for this type of book is hard for me. It's a book I greatly enjoyed, but I don't necessarily think you will enjoy, but I so very much want to convince you to give it a chance! How do I do that in a review? In real life, it would involve some level of hand waving and bouncing from foot to foot. I'll try to replicate that here. There is so much depth in this book. I am amazed at how the author was able to focus in on this small window of time and end up saying so much. But every th Writing a review for this type of book is hard for me. It's a book I greatly enjoyed, but I don't necessarily think you will enjoy, but I so very much want to convince you to give it a chance! How do I do that in a review? In real life, it would involve some level of hand waving and bouncing from foot to foot. I'll try to replicate that here. There is so much depth in this book. I am amazed at how the author was able to focus in on this small window of time and end up saying so much. But every thing said is subtle, gently set before you, and left for you to decide if you want take it. It is the kind of book that will slowly pull you into its depths or leave you bored and confused. If you are a reader who prefers action packed books, this is definitely not for you. Almost nothing happens in this book. If you are a reader who needs everything to be clear and direct, this book is not for you. But if you enjoy the subtle, the meandering, the contemplation, then you will likely greatly enjoy this book. There is something small and perfect about it. There is something fundamental about it. And there are definitely a lot of things about it that I can't explain in words. Picture me excuding excitement here instead. If you are interested in reading a book set in a culture different from your own, this is a good book for that. Because it focuses so well on the every day, it gives a deep picture of a culture in a different country. If the summary sounds interesting to you, definitely pick this up and give it a go. Read a bit longer than you normally do before you bail. There will come a moment when it is too good to turn back from. I hope you get to that point, read to the end, and find you enjoyed it. I received this book free though Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Hiromi Kawakami, Goodreads, and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book with no obligation to review this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lulufrances

    Shocker! Low rating from me! Not that this was by any means a bad book! It did have its moments and it wasn't a pain in the buttocks to read or anything - but something just fell flat pour moi. Dare I say the b-word? Well yes, I was a lil... bored . A whimsical Japanese episodic story which seemed more like an interlinked short story collection than a consecutive narrative (which it was, though) and didn't hold any memorable moments for me. Oh apart from this crazy metalevel reading experience: there' Shocker! Low rating from me! Not that this was by any means a bad book! It did have its moments and it wasn't a pain in the buttocks to read or anything - but something just fell flat pour moi. Dare I say the b-word? Well yes, I was a lil... bored . A whimsical Japanese episodic story which seemed more like an interlinked short story collection than a consecutive narrative (which it was, though) and didn't hold any memorable moments for me. Oh apart from this crazy metalevel reading experience: there's a sentence in it along the lines of "The first of April was a Saturday" or similar, which - y'all guessed it - I read on the first of April. WHICH WAS A SATURDAY. (I know. If this was my coolest experience with the plot, the rating explains itself...)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This was a beautiful story. The writing transports the reader into the lives of Mr Nakano and the thrift shop workers. A comfortable quiet story. Main characters do not have to be exciting or special snowflakes to make a good story. It is nice to read about realistic characters.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Utterly charming book about the lives of the owner and staff of a second hand shop.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    "The Nakano Thrift Shop" is as poetic as you would expect from a modern Japanese novelist. Charming too, and peaceful, despite the tension that is the book's primary plot. The thrift shop in which the characters work becomes a metaphor for its employees: lost objects, wandering until they find someone who will value them at least as highly than they do themselves.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    3.5/5stars Hiromi Kawakami's books intrigued me. This is the second of hers I've read and it remains that it's like nothing I've read before, and I'm not even necessarily why I keep coming back for more. Her books are more like collections of short stories, except that they follow the same characters and all the stories connect to each other - but each chapter basically has its own thing going on and happening. And, her books are almost boring, but not in a bad way? I'm not sure how to explain 3.5/5stars Hiromi Kawakami's books intrigued me. This is the second of hers I've read and it remains that it's like nothing I've read before, and I'm not even necessarily why I keep coming back for more. Her books are more like collections of short stories, except that they follow the same characters and all the stories connect to each other - but each chapter basically has its own thing going on and happening. And, her books are almost boring, but not in a bad way? I'm not sure how to explain it, but her books are about such HUMAN things and humans are notoriously boring. I did enjoy this, it's just such a strange enjoyment lol

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    Con apenas referencias del mundo asiático resulta arriesgado escribir lo que me ha parecido la novela, pero vamos allá. El inicio del libro me llevó mentalmente a las imágenes de los suculentos platos que aparecen en la película comer, beber, amar de Ang Lee . En ambos casos la atención que se presta a la comida la convierten en un protagonista más, si bien en el caso del libro el énfasis que la escritora le da al principio va perdiendo fuerza aunque nunca acabe de desaparecer del todo. A medida Con apenas referencias del mundo asiático resulta arriesgado escribir lo que me ha parecido la novela, pero vamos allá. El inicio del libro me llevó mentalmente a las imágenes de los suculentos platos que aparecen en la película comer, beber, amar de Ang Lee . En ambos casos la atención que se presta a la comida la convierten en un protagonista más, si bien en el caso del libro el énfasis que la escritora le da al principio va perdiendo fuerza aunque nunca acabe de desaparecer del todo. A medida que avanza la narración se aprecia también otra similitud referida a los personajes: una familia en la película y cuatro personajes principales reunidos en torno a una tienda de antigüedades en el caso de la novela que funcionan como si de una familia se tratara. El argumento se centra en las relaciones personales de los personajes narradas en primera persona desde el punto de vista de Hitomi, una veinteañera que trabaja de dependienta en la tienda. La acompaña Takeo, de su misma edad, el jefe de ambos y propietario del negocio, el Sr. Nakano y su excéntrica hermana, Masayo. Hitomi y Takeo iniciarán una peculiar relación sentimental que no sabrán manejar debido a la poca comunicación entre ellos. La timidez, los silencios y la no expresión de los sentimientos, particularmente en el caso de Takeo, acabarán por dinamitar la relación. El hermetismo a la hora de exteriorizar los sentimientos me recordó a los personajes de Toru y Naoko de Tokio Blues, pero más edulcorados en este caso. También el aislamiento adolescente en la sociedad japonesa y, por extensión, en el mundo contemporáneo occidental, se mostraba en la película Babel de González Iñárritu que utilizaba la figura de una joven tokiota sordomuda precisamente para poner de manifiesto el vacío interior en un entorno plagado de estímulos. Un ejemplo de esta falta de comunicación entre Hitomi y Takeo se aprecia en el siguiente diálogo: -No importa, no llueve mucho-repuse-. Por cierto, ¿por qué no me has cogido el teléfono?- le pregunté cuando ya habíamos dejado atrás la comisaría. Él no dijo nada. -¿Me odias? Siguió sin responderme. - ¿Ya no podemos ser amigos? Takeo movió la cabeza, pero no supe si estaba asintiendo o negando. De repente me di cuenta de que estaba enamorada de él. Había intentado ignorar mis sentimientos al ver que no me cogía el teléfono, pero no lo había conseguido. “Estoy enamorada como una idiota-pensé-. El amor es un sentimiento idiota”. -Podías cogerme el teléfono. Takeo no me respondió. -Estoy enamorada de ti. Él siguió sin abrir la boca. - ¿Ya no te gusto? Ni una palabra. (…) -Está claro que no confío en las personas- dijo Takeo, agitando el dedo meñique de su mano derecha.- A lo mejor es por esto-añadió, y escondió la mano inmediatamente. -¡No puedes compararme con tu antiguo compañero de clase!- grité sin pensar. -No es eso- murmuró él cabizbajo. -¿Qué es, entonces? -La gente me da miedo-dijo despacio. Ante esta situación, Takeo se encierra en sí mismo y Hitomi, para intentar entender lo que le está pasando recurre a Masayo. Masayo se yergue como el personaje más maduro en el plano emocional. Así, ya al principio de la novela se dice “-Me gusta la nieve porque es alegre- dijo Masayo, que no tenía reparos en expresar sus sentimientos. Takeo y yo la escuchábamos en silencio.” Poseedora de una fuerte personalidad, se dedica a organizar exposiciones de muñecas que confecciona ella misma, es la amante de un hombre casado sin importarle demasiado lo que opine la gente y no se calla lo que piensa. Actúa como la mater familias del grupo dando sabios consejos a Hitomi, con la que trabará una gran amistad, y poniendo en evidencia muchas de las actitudes de su hermano Nakano. Sin embargo, al final del libro, el lector verá como Masayo también tiene sus propias debilidades. La autora siente predilección por los personajes femeninos, más coherentes, valientes y luchadores que los masculinos que se limitan a huir, a permanecer callados o a utilizar el alcohol y las mujeres en el momento en que se presenta alguna dificultad. Aparece tangencialmente alguna referencia a la sexualidad femenina que no está mal. Como puntos débiles me ha decepcionado que no se mantuviera la fuerza en las descripciones de la comida, que es un recurso que puede funcionar muy bien explotándolo más como símbolo de las emociones que se suceden, por ejemplo (se intuye en algún momento pero no acaba de concretarse); la poca profundidad psicológica de los personajes que parecen responder a perfiles prototípicos de lo que se considera “femenino” y “masculino” sin ir más allá, así como el hecho de que a parte de los cuatro protagonistas principales haya otros que aparezcan y desaparezcan sin que entendamos muy bien por qué. Tampoco me ha gustado que la novela toque gran cantidad de temas pero muy superficialmente. Prefiero sólo uno pero bien desarrollado. Como puntos fuertes destacaría que es un libro amable, sencillo, puede que un pelín dulzón, que se lee rápido y que funcionaría muy bien si se quisiera llevar al cine. Se sitúa en la línea de Juntos, nada más de Anna Gavalda o La elegancia del erizo de Muriel Barbery, ideales para leer sin demasiado esfuerzo y que te dejan un buen sabor de boca.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Phakin

    ประหลาดดี หนังสือใหเราติดตามความเปนไปของความรักทีเกิดขึนในรานขายของเกาของนะกะโนะ ตัวเรืองสวนใหญดำเนินผานบทสนทนาของตัวละครหลักสามสีคน เชือมโยงกับวัตถุในรานแตละชิน เราไมคอยอินกับเรืองนีเทาไหร อาจเปนเพราะบางตอนมันดูปุปปับไปหนอย แตชอบบทสุดทายหลังจากทีทุกคนเริมแยกยายกัน แลวมีเหตุใหมาพบกันใหม หนาทายๆ มีหลายประโยคทีทำใหนึกถึง 'ความไมเรียบของความรัก' ประหลาดดี หนังสือให้เราติดตามความเป็นไปของความรักที่เกิดขึ้นในร้านขายของเก่าของนะกะโนะ ตัวเรื่องส่วนใหญ่ดำเนินผ่านบทสนทนาของตัวละครหลักสามสี่คน เชื่อมโยงกับวัตถุในร้านแต่ละชิ้น เราไม่ค่อยอินกับเรื่องนี้เท่าไหร่ อาจเป็นเพราะบางตอนมันดูปุปปับไปหน่อย แต่ชอบบทสุดท้ายหลังจากที่ทุกคนเริ่มแยกย้ายกัน แล้วมีเหตุให้มาพบกันใหม่ หน้าท้ายๆ มีหลายประโยคที่ทำให้นึกถึง 'ความไม่เรียบของความรัก'

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rise

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Bought this book on Friday, spent almost the whole Saturday reading this book, and finally finished reading it few minutes ago. I bought this book because I wanted a light reading. I had no idea what's the book all about but I like the author's writing style in "Strange Weather in Tokyo"; simple and heart-warming. Unlike "Strange Weather in Tokyo", the main characters on this book are not old people. Hiromi and Takeo are on their 20s. While Mr. Nakano and his older sister are over 40. I like how t Bought this book on Friday, spent almost the whole Saturday reading this book, and finally finished reading it few minutes ago. I bought this book because I wanted a light reading. I had no idea what's the book all about but I like the author's writing style in "Strange Weather in Tokyo"; simple and heart-warming. Unlike "Strange Weather in Tokyo", the main characters on this book are not old people. Hiromi and Takeo are on their 20s. While Mr. Nakano and his older sister are over 40. I like how the days go by in "The Nakano Thrift Shop" and somehow I can relate to Hitomi when it comes to face her problems with timid but charming Takeo. The feeling of knowing but not knowing at the same time and also the confusion whether it is love or not. The book may seem too slow-paced for some people. After all I totally had no idea where the story would go but I enjoy every page and patiently devouring the words. The details of their mundane daily lives are interesting for me. Sometimes I got really frustrated about Takeo, I felt like screaming "Goddamn Takeo, talk to her!" But then that's how Takeo is, awkward and can't really express his feelings well. I am glad that it's a happy ending though.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    As a fan of Murakami, I have to admit that Japanese fiction always leaves me perplexed with more questions than answers at the conclusion of the story. Hiromi Kawakami's 'The Nakano Thrift Shop' is certainly no exception. Her characters are drawn with gentle, quaintly humorous brush strokes and her settings are familiar shops, restaurants and gardens. However, the style of writing is uniquely Japanese; frequently sparse and enigmatic. As a Westerner, who has not visited Japan, I have to ask if p As a fan of Murakami, I have to admit that Japanese fiction always leaves me perplexed with more questions than answers at the conclusion of the story. Hiromi Kawakami's 'The Nakano Thrift Shop' is certainly no exception. Her characters are drawn with gentle, quaintly humorous brush strokes and her settings are familiar shops, restaurants and gardens. However, the style of writing is uniquely Japanese; frequently sparse and enigmatic. As a Westerner, who has not visited Japan, I have to ask if people in that country actually have conversations such as those in this book, where Hitomi, Takeo and Mr. Nakano speak so evasively to each other about trivial matters, yet Mr. Nakano sees fit to discuss his love life with his young female shop assistant, including his visits to the local "love hotel". I suppose this is where the chasm in our cultures is apparent. I felt that Hitomi and painfully shy Takeo spoke and acted more like teenagers than thirty-something year-old adults, but maybe this is the cultural divide once again. The character of Masayo, Mr. Nakano's artistic older sister, came across as the most credible, a strong, independent woman, yet with a love life as complicated as those of the other characters. A love story with a thread of melancholy running throughout, and a typically Japanese inscrutable ending.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Winna

    It took me a long time to finish this book. After a fair share of thrillers and teenage angst i felt like a refresher, a slice of life book about particularly nothing and everything. I was both right and wrong about this one. I loved Strange Weather in Tokyo, and while Manazuru was hard to finish, it was not nearly as incomprehensible as this one. Nakano Thrift Shop was a slow read, with scattered thoughts of the bland narrator about this and that. The romance was downplayed, but the other relati It took me a long time to finish this book. After a fair share of thrillers and teenage angst i felt like a refresher, a slice of life book about particularly nothing and everything. I was both right and wrong about this one. I loved Strange Weather in Tokyo, and while Manazuru was hard to finish, it was not nearly as incomprehensible as this one. Nakano Thrift Shop was a slow read, with scattered thoughts of the bland narrator about this and that. The romance was downplayed, but the other relationships portrayed were rather interesting (Sakiko and Masayo being my favorites). I like how each chapter correlated to a thing in the shop that gave meaning to self discoveries of love and life, and a back story to some side characters while also offering insight on the main character Hitomi. But the romance progressed really slowly and i really disliked the male character Takeo, who was fearful and distant and unsure of himself. I hated the romance; did not care for it at all. On the other hand, the others kind of took center stage (Mr. Nakano and his own love affairs, Masayo and Maruyama). I wish i liked this more. I did love the last few chapters but they seemed to pick up pace and conflict late in the game, so two stars from me for this one. I still wouldn't miss a Kawakami novel though - will be anticipating her next one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Het hoofdpersonage is in tegenstelling tot wat de titel laat vermoeden niet Nakano zelf maar een van zijn personeelsleden, de jonge vrouw Hitomi. Op zoek naar een baantje belandde ze in de rommelwinkel van mijnheer Nakano waar ze samen met de zwijgzame Takeo de spullen verkoopt die mijnheer Nakano hier en daar op de kop tikt en dan met een kleine winst opnieuw verkoopt in zijn volgestouwde winkeltje. Voor Kawakami is dat uitgangspunt echter voldoende voor een korte reflectie op het leven van enk Het hoofdpersonage is in tegenstelling tot wat de titel laat vermoeden niet Nakano zelf maar een van zijn personeelsleden, de jonge vrouw Hitomi. Op zoek naar een baantje belandde ze in de rommelwinkel van mijnheer Nakano waar ze samen met de zwijgzame Takeo de spullen verkoopt die mijnheer Nakano hier en daar op de kop tikt en dan met een kleine winst opnieuw verkoopt in zijn volgestouwde winkeltje. Voor Kawakami is dat uitgangspunt echter voldoende voor een korte reflectie op het leven van enkele mensen binnen het moderne Japan. Mijnheer Nakano zelf is een wat vreemde, oudere vogel en vrouwengek die naargelang zijn nukken perfect met de mensen weet om te gaan of zichzelf net stokken in de wielen steekt. Zijn al even excentrieke zus Nasayo, die als kunstenares aan de bak komt, duikt geregeld op in de winkel om haar broer te helpen en te bekritiseren. Hiromi en Takeo ondergaan het komen en gaan in de winkel en zijn willens nillens toeschouwers (en soms zelf participanten) van het persoonlijke leven van mijnheer Nakano en zijn zus. Ook tussen Takeo en Hitomi ontstaat langzaam maar zeker een relatie, al mag het duidelijk zijn dat noch de onbeholpen en verlegen Takeo noch de onzekere Hitomi hun gevoelens voor elkaar helder weten te formuleren. De stuntelige pogingen om dichter tot elkaar te komen vormen een herkenbare onzekerheid die niet zozeer karikaturaal of uitvergroot is als wel een patroon van twijfel waarmee eenieder ooit in contact gekomen is. Het is een van de troeven van Kawakami dat ze haar personages nergens als grotesken neerzet maar eerder als stuntelende mensen die er maar net niet in slagen hun leven op de rails te krijgen zonder ooit dramatisch te ontsporen. De roman wordt ingenieus opgebouwd rond telkens een specifiek voorwerp uit de winkel -- gaande van een presse papier tot een jeneverfles (een obsessie van Nakano) -- dat vaak de aanleiding vormt voor mijmeringen, discussies en bepaalde zaken in gang zet. Een echt tijdsverloop wordt niet gegeven, maar uit de verschillende hoofdstukken wordt snel duidelijk dat de roman verschillende maanden beslaat, waar enkele tranches de vie uitgelicht worden die een blik werpen op het moderne Japan. Alweer een mooi boekje over hoe mensen zich een plaats in het leven proberen te geven. Over hoe moeilijk ook het is om duurzame en diepgaande contacten te ontwikkelen. Mooi, zeer mooi. En bij momenten subtiel grappig. "Ouder worden houdt in dat je, voor je iemand verwijten maakt, erop moet letten of hij wel gezond genoeg is om zulke verwijten of hevige haat te verdragen"

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