Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto

“It’s a marvelous thing, the ocean. For some reason when two people sit together looking out at it, they stop caring whether they talk or stay silent. You never get tired of watching it. And no matter how rough the waves get, you’re never bothered by the noise the water makes or by the commotion of the surface—it never seems too loud, or too wild.” (p. 22)

“Each one of us continues to carry the heart of each self we’ve ever been, at every stage along the way, and a chaos of everything good and rotten. And we have to carry this weight all alone, through each day that we live. We try to be as nice as we can to the people we love, but we alone support the weight of ourselves.” (p. 39)

“I felt a little lonely as I strolled back to the inn through the gathering dusk, alone this time. I wanted to hold on to the particular feeling of languor that I got as I walked the streets of this town, the town of my past, which I would lose when summer ended. This world of ours is piled high with farewells and goodbyes of so many different kinds, like the evening sky renewing itself again and again from one instant to the next-and I didn’t want to forget a single one.” (p. 111)

I kept expecting Tsugumi to die, kept waiting for the farewell, kept waiting for the tears that separation always brings me. But, this is not what I found. Instead, I found a story told through the eyes of a girl in her late teens: of her summer, the beginning of her new life in Tokyo, and most of all of the relationship she has with her dramatic, self-obsessed cousin, Tsugumi.

The most I can do at this point is write three favorite passages from the novel, which I did at the top of the post, and hope for a more enlightening discussion at Tanabata’s on August 30.

18 thoughts on “Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto”

  1. I loved all the passages that you have quoted, Bellezza! My favourite was the first one – I remember seeing the ocean a few times when I was a kid, but when we were planning to move to a place which was near the sea, I saw the ocean after many years and I went and stood on the beach watching the waves, and I felt exactly like Yoshimoto has written in that first passage.I have 'Goodbye, Tsugumi' on my 'TBR' list and I am hoping to read it soon. I will look forward to following your discussions at Tanabata's 🙂


  2. The ocean quote struck me the same way, Vishy. I understood exactly what Yoshimoto was writing about when I think of the times I've been at the ocean. It made me want to move right away! I'm looking forward to reading what other's think, too; it's so good to discuss a book together! Perhaps you'll have time to read it by the end of August? 🙂


  3. I love that first passage; I always feel that way about the ocean (and even, pace my still-coastal friends, about Lake Michigan) and our relationship with water is a big interest of mine.Plus, I love Yoshimoto. I'll have to make this the next book of hers I get to.


  4. I love how you said "our relationship with water is a big interest of mine." Sounds like an intriguing title for a post, as I feel the same way. I love water, be it Lake Michigan, the Pacific Ocean, the Meditteranean, or the river flowing in front of our house, it makes no difference to me.


  5. Goodbye Tsugumi is my favorite Yoshimoto-I loved the crazy revenge scene and the relationships of the characters with each other -it also shows the dominance of Tokyo over small town Japan-


  6. Mel, I don't know if it's my favorite Yoshimoto novel (I've only read Kitchen before this), but I did so enjoy the relationship between the cousins. The revenge scene was amazing; that's what those boys get for messing with an innocent Pomeranian belonging to someone else! Also, Tsugumi's conviction that she was going to die was interesting…


  7. Okay, okay, I will read something by Banana Yoshimoto. The passages you quote here are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them…(so glad your challenge has begun; it gives me a chance to make good on this promise)


  8. ds, I find Banana Yoshimoto's work very heartfelt and endearing. It's also short, so you won't be committed to reading something endless. I also have her novel NP on my table; I've only read this and Kitchen. But, I enjoyed both of them very much.


  9. These are great quotes, Yoshimoto is one of my favorite writers! I´ve always wondered what it would be like to read her works in japanese, but I´ve tried the translations in two different languages, and it´s amazing how much of her style is preserved.Hope you´ll enjoy N.P. It was the first book I ever read by her and I have a soft spot for it! 🙂


  10. Bina, I can't tell you how often I've wished for the ability to read in Japanese when I'm reading in this genre. I'm so relieved to hear you say that her style is preserved in the two translations you read. Thank you for visiting me, and leaving such a great comment! Now I'm really looking forward to N.P.


  11. Hmmm–I can't tell–does this mean you liked the book or didn't? I almost sense a kind of ambivalence? I read this during my blogging break so haven't reviewed it and don't remember it well enough to write about it now but I was struck by the passages you quoted here and several others.


  12. I did like it, Trish, very much. It's just that I didn't have a lot to say in reviewing it that didn't tell of the plot in too spoiling of a way. The best parts were the characters themselves, how living, breathing, real they were to me. And how one was annoyed with Tsugumi's selfishness, and yet taken with her at the same time. Yoshimoto's writing is so eloquent, almost ethereal to me…


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