06 June 2017

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami (translated by Allison Markin Powell)

Summary from Goodreads:
Featuring a delightfully offbeat cast of characters, The Nakano Thrift Shop is
a generous-hearted portrayal of human relationships by one of Japan's most beloved authors.

Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully, they show the signs of innumerable extravagancies, of immeasurable pleasure and pain, and of the deep mysteries of the human heart.

Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register at Mr. Nakano's thrift shop, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo. Unsure of how to attract his attention, she seeks advice from her employer's sister, Masayo, whose sentimental entanglements make her a somewhat unconventional guide. But thanks in part to Masayo, Hitomi will come to realize that love, desire, and intimacy require acceptance not only of idiosyncrasies but also of the delicate waltz between open and hidden secrets. Animating each delicately rendered chapter in Kawakami's playful novel is Mr. Nakano himself, an original, entertaining, and enigmatic creation whose compulsive mannerisms, secretive love life, and impulsive behavior defy all expectations.

The Nakano Thrift Shop is a quirky, understated book about three people who work at a thrift shop (four, if you count the owner's sister) over the course of about one year. Hitomi observes the oddities of her employer, Mr. Nakano, and his sister while appearing to drift a little bit in life (I hate to use the term "quarterlife crisis" but it does feel like she is trying to figure out life a bit).  She also develops a strange relationship with the delivery driver Takeo, who definitely sends her strange signals.  This is an excellent book for when you need something quiet.

The translation seems good (I had thought that "Indian summer" was an odd idiom to use but it turns out that it was ported into Japanese some time ago). There is a weird convention about quotation marks - sometimes used, sometimes not.

Dear FTC: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

1 comment:

  1. I've been trying to get my hands on this book for ages but couldn't find a translation and my library won't order it. Uhg