Book Review: The Nakano Thrift Store by Hiromi Kawakami

A 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. Apart from her 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 Masayos lover, Mr. Maruyama, appears. Hitomi recognizes 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 Kawakamis most famous book, but worth reading on an easygoing Sunday afternoon. Nothing complicated, but entertaining and with many Japanese details. Lovely.

In Japanese: Furudogu Nakano Shoten, 2005.

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

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