The Nakano Thrift Shop: A Novel (Paperback)
Hitomi works the register at a secondhand shop. Her only coworkers are the quirky Mr. Nakano himself, his equally quirky artist sister, and Takeo, a young man for whom Hitomi isn’t sure of her feelings. What I loved about this novel are the small moments; Kawakami writes the quiet ins and outs of daily life so, so well. I felt a part of this small business and the ways that they interact as a staff and a work family, nuanced relationships that are felt in the small conversations and meals and (sometimes offbeat or meddlesome) ways in which they care for each other over time. And the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Hitomi and Takeo could not have been more spot on. Often delightful and with an amount of feeling that took me by surprise, this is a quiet novel perfect for someone who wants to breathe inside the comfort of the everyday for a little while.— From Kelsey's Picks
Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully, they show the signs of innumerable extravagancies, of immeasurable pleasure and pain, and of the deep mysteries of the human heart.
Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register at Mr. Nakano's thrift shop, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo. Unsure of how to attract his attention, she seeks advice from her employer's sister, Masayo, whose sentimental entanglements make her a somewhat unconventional guide. But thanks in part to Masayo, Hitomi will come to realize that love, desire, and intimacy require acceptance not only of idiosyncrasies but also of the delicate waltz between open and hidden secrets.
Animating each delicately rendered chapter in Kawakami's playful novel is Mr. Nakano himself, an original, entertaining, and enigmatic creation whose compulsive mannerisms, secretive love life, and impulsive behavior defy all expectations.
Allison Markin Powell is a literary translator and editor in New York City. Her translations include works by Osamu Dazai, Fuminori Nakamura, and Kanako Nishi, and she was the guest editor for the first Japan issue of Words Without Borders. She maintains the database Japanese Literature in English at www.japaneseliteratureinenglish.com.
"A gentle, humorous novel.”
—The Wall Street Journal
"Kawakami lavishes attention on quotidian minutiae and exquisitely awkward pauses, ending scenes on maddeningly unresolved but vibrant images. [...] It feels a lot like daily life in Tokyo, but odder."
—The New York Times
“The novel presents a fine-grained portrayal of its characters’ lives [...] [Its] pleasures [...] revolve [...] around the granular details of the everyday.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"[Kawakami] knows she doesn't need fireworks to keep the reader entertained, and is pushing her exploration of form and style."
—The Japan Times
"A window into another world is opened by this pleasant but sprightly look at daily life in a small thrift shop in a Japanese city. Love and disappointment, professional rivalry, filial conflict and longings for another life illuminate these characters who became friends to the reader by the finish. Great summer read."
—Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA)
"Charming, quirky, and wise, this is a warmhearted character study of the undervalued, the obsolete, and the hidden gems among us all."
—Monique Truong, author of Bitter in the Mouth
"Subtle, graceful, wise and threaded on a quirky humour, this exploration of the connections and disconnections between people kept me smiling long after the last page."
—Julia Rochester, author of The House at the End of the World
"The Nakano Thrift Shop is really a love story, albeit a very offbeat one... A gentle book, full of charm [and] radiating leftfield charisma."
"Hiromi Kawakami's charming novel illuminates moments of kindness, love and friendship that pop up like the unexpected treasures amid the shop's dusty collection of pretty mismatched bowls and plates, castoff eyeglasses, task lamps and old electric fans."
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
". . .[A] modern Japanese slice-of-life drama."
"Readers will grow to care about these quirky characters [...] making “Nakano” an utterly charming little book."
—Philippine Daily Inquirer
"A window into another world is opened by this pleasant but sprightly look at daily life in a small thrift shop in a Japanese city. Love and disappointment, professional rivalry, filial conflict and longings for another life illuminate these characters who become friends to the reader by the finish."
—Eric Boss, Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association