by Banana Yoshimoto
The kitchen is the setting in which mothers, transsexuals, bereavement, cooking, love and tragedy are observed and experienced by a couple of free-spirited young people in contemporary Japan. Kitchen is the story of the love between Mikage – the novel’s main character – and Yuichi. After the death of her grandmother, Mikage decides to go to live with her friend Yuichi and his mother Eriko. The lives of the two young people will become intertwined to the accompaniment of the dishes cooked by Mikage, while Eriko, who is in reality a transvestite, will go through a profound crisis before rediscovering herself. One of the “literary sensations” of the last decade, it has given a Japanese director the opportunity to put the “new generation” of his country on stage. The novel, which quickly made its way from Japan to the whole of the West, is in fact just a pretext. In a play of allusions and parallels between such apparently different realities – theirs and ours – a vivid, amusing and bitter portrait is gradually painted of a young generation that is very much of the present day and that transcends any geographical and cultural reference. The work tells the stories of young people who in turn unabashedly reveal the hypocrisies, sufferings and delights that lurk amidst the tight mesh of human relations.