Book Review: The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

The Nakano Thrift Shop CoverA thrift store in Tokyo is the scenery for this entertaining novel. People are floating in and out. The story bubbles along lightly.

Hitomi, a young girl, works together with Takeo, a boy at her age. He is very shy and introverted. Between both of them begins a love story with many complications.

Then there is Mr. Nakano, the owner of the shop. A womanizer. Hitomi, who does not know much about love and sex, wonders often about his strange behaviour. He focuses on money and women and is mainly characterized through his crankiness throughout the whole story.

Mr. Nakano regularly goes to the bank, which is actually meeting his affair Mrs. Sasaki, an elegant woman, managing an antique shop. He is struggling with his many affairs and is on the run. When things get too complicated he hides in Sapporo for a while.

Meanwhile his sister Masayo, an artist in her fifties takes over. The warm-hearted woman somehow adopts Hitomi and undertakes her education. She is her counterpart, who manages every situation with coolness.

Then Masayo’s lover, Mr. Maruyama, appears Hitomi learns that stupid behaviour is not limited to the youth when it comes to love. And one day Mr. Maruyama escapes without reason. Masayo is left behind heartbroken.

After a while Mr. Nakano returns to Tokyo and decides to close the thrift store in order to renew it. It takes three years that all protagonists will meet there again. But time has changed them all. And Mr. Maruyama is dead.

The storytelling is very light and easygoing. Persons are described mainly through dialogue and their often weird interaction. It‘s the absurdities of daily life and the love stories which make the novel a funny read.

It is not Hiromi Kawakami’s most famous book, but worth reading on an easygoing Sunday afternoon. Nothing complicated, but entertaining and with many Japanese details. Lovely.

Reviewed Title
川上 弘美. 古道具 中野商店 (Furudogu Nakano Shoten), 2005.
Kawakami Hiromi: The Nakano Thrift Shop. Translated by Allison Markin Powell. Europe Editions, 2017 (cover).

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

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