Saturday 25 March 2017

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami  {Reviewed by STELLA}
A few years ago, I read Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. Like the amazing Japanese food described throughout that book, the love story that between Tsukiko and her former teacher is careful, precise and beautiful. Kawakami's most recent novel is The Nakano Thrift Shop. Here the setting is a second-hand shop, one filled with curios, odds and ends, and the occasional antique. Hitomi, a slightly awkward young woman, works as a cashier at the shop. She is fascinated by Takeo, her fellow employee, who drives and collects for Mr Nakano, the shop owner. Mr Nakano is an eccentric character with his past three wives, a mistress, and his joy in getting the best deal when he’s bartering for goods. The other player in this quartet is Nakano’s sister, Mayaso, an unconventional artist, who plays ‘advisor’ to the naïve cashier. Hitomi is obsessed with developing a relationship with Takeo, who initially isn’t interested in anything beyond companionship. While the characters are slightly quirky, this is a novel about the ordinary texture of love and the relationships people form. Kawakami’s gift comes in her ability to slow you down as a reader, to observe and appreciate the obvious, surprising you with subtle nuances that are almost unseen.

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