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THE PREMONITION by Banana Yoshimoto
Translated by Asa Yoneda
By now, Banana Yoshimoto might well be considered an elder statesperson of quirky Japanese fiction, having long ago blazed the trail for the new crop currently conquering the literary world. It’s interesting, then, that her latest book to appear in English is far from new. The Premonition was published in Japan in 1988. The fact it fits so smoothly into the contemporary landscape is testament to what a great writer Yoshimoto has been from the outset.
Growing up with her family, Yayoi was prone to seeing events from the future just before they happened. Now, pushing twenty, her visions are changing. They depict an alternate childhood with a different family. Yayoi flees her parents’ home to live with her eccentric aunt, Yukino. All’s well until Yukino disappears. As Yayoi searches for her aunt, her visions swirl, mixing past and future, culminating in a powerful epiphany.
Although The Premonition is very much the work of someone finding their voice, it still packs a decent enough dose of charm, whimsy and foreboding to satisfy fans of Meiko Kawakami and Sayaka Murata. I’m glad Yoshimoto lost the saccharine from her sweetness over time, but even so, The Premonition is a worthwhile read.
The Premonition by Banana Yoshimoto (Tr. Asa Yoneda)