Banana Yoshimoto may be second only to Haruki Murakami in overseas name recognition among Japanese writers today. Her works have been translated and published in over 30 countries, especially striking a chord in Italy. The major publishing house Feltrinelli has brought out translations of nearly all her major works up to and including her 2010 newspaper novel, Moshi-moshi Shimokitazawa ('Calling Shimokitazawa'), and she has received the Scanno Prize (1993), the Fendissime Prize (1996), the Maschera d’argento Prize (1999), and the Capri Award (2011).
The author is a child of the old shitamachi ("low city") district of Tokyo. Her father was the noted critic and poet Takaaki Yoshimoto (1924-2012), her mother Kazuko (1927-2012) was a haiku poet, and her older sister is the manga artist Yoiko Haruno. Yoshimoto has famously said that, although she was fond of manga, her sister was a better artist, so she decided at an early age to focus on writing rather than drawing, and set her sights on becoming a novelist. She made her literary debut shortly after graduating from college by winning the 1987 Kaien Prize for New Writers for the novella Kitchen (tr. 1993), then promptly began turning out one bestseller after another. The three authors she most frequently cites as favorites are Truman Capote, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and William Burroughs.
Anthologies featuring Banana Yoshimoto
A City in Short Fiction.