The Premonition

Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (trans.)

The Premonition
Faber & Faber
United Kingdom
10 October 2023

The Premonition

Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (trans.)

I had a melancholy premonition of reaching the end of the road and getting lost inside a distant tide. It was the beginning of summer, and I was nineteen years old.

Yayoi lives with her perfect, loving family - something 'like you'd see in a Spielberg movie'. But while her parents tell happy stories of her childhood, she is increasingly haunted by the sense that she's forgotten something important about her past. Deciding to take a break, she goes to stay with her mysterious but beloved aunt Yukino, whose strange behaviour includes waking Yayoi at two in the morning to be her drinking companion, watching Friday the 13th repeatedly and throwing away all the things she wants to forget. Living a life without order, Yukino seems to be protecting herself, but beneath this facade Yayoi starts to recover lost memories, and everything she knows about her past threatens to change forever.


‘I had a premonition of setting out on a journey and getting lost inside a distant tide as the sun went down, ending up far, far away from where I started.’

Although Yayoi lives a happy life with her quintessentially perfect family, she cannot shake the strange feeling that she has forgotten something important from her past. Led by this intuition, she takes a trip to her aunt Yukino’s house, deep in a Japanese forest. Yukino is an enigmatic and bizarre character, her house is in disarray, and she often goes missing without a word. While Yayoi and her auntie aren’t especially close, she feels drawn towards her. What is this peculiar feeling and does Yukino hold the answer to it?

The Premonition is a strange and compelling novella, perfect to read in one sitting. Banana Yoshimoto has created a simple but touching tale where the reader embarks on a journey alongside the protagonist. Ultimately, this is a story about family. Yoshimoto explores the way we are connected to our family, not just corporeally but soulfully as well.

Just as you would expect from Yoshimoto, this is an odd little tale. The plot itself is not especially complex and some of the relationships in the story are slightly peculiar, but the beauty of this story lies in its tenderness. The mystery of the plot paired with the beautiful delicacy of Yoshimoto’s prose gives the story a dreamlike quality. It’s perfect for fans of Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Sweet Bean Paste.

Excitingly, this is the first time The Premonition is being published in English, and I imagine it will come with high praise. It was first published in Japan in 1988, the same year Yoshimoto made her debut alongside other works, including, most famously, her novella Kitchen.

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