Banana Yoshimoto is the pen name of the Japanese writer Mahoko Yoshimoto. She loved the banana flowers and took this name as a writer. She took this name because found the name cute and the flower was androgynous.
Banana Yoshimoto was born on 24th July to an affluent and liberal family. Her father was a leader of in the radical movement of the 60s. He was famous poet and her sister was renowned cartoonist in Japan. Yoshimoto graduated in Literature from Nihon University, Tokyo. The novella ‘Moonlight Shadow’ written as a graduation story became a hit and she was given the Izumi Kyoka Prize which was awarded by the faculty of the college. After her graduation she worked as a waitress in a golf club restaurant. She began her writing career while working here. The novella ‘Kitchen’ was published in 1988. This and ‘Moonlight Shadow’ were translated into English and published in 1993. Both these novellas were put together under the title ‘Kitchen’. With this her reputation spread to the west. By then she had made her name in Japan. She received many awards in Japan and in few other countries. The novel ‘The Lake’ was listed for Man Asian Literary Prize. Apart from her presence on Twitter and blogs, she keeps a low profile despite her success.
Yoshimoto said she wrote for fun and that writing came to her as natural as breathing. Her writings appealed to the young. Her themes were problems of youth and urban existentialism and this was conveyed through the dreams of the protagonists and through food. There is a conflict between imagination and reality amongst the youth and she portrays it. She highlights the positive side also; the youth fight life with bravery and finally find meaning for their lives. Since she exudes optimism she is referred to as “Healing-Kei” writer which means one who conveys warmth, love and positivity to the readers. In her own words she says she writes about “the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan” and “the way in which terrible experiences shape a person’s life”.
Popular works by the author
Some of the popular works are Kanashiiyokan (Sad Foreboding) and Utakata/Sankuchuari, Tsugumi ,Amurita , and Hādoboirudo/hādorakku.