The Nakano Thrift Shop by Niromi Kawakami

Like the characters who run it, the Nakano Thrift Shop starts off a messy jumble of cast offs.  And, like these characters, it transforms into The Nakano, more put together – a narrative – over time.  Each chapter is named for an item (paperweight, letter opener, dress, sewing machine, gin, jug…) and contains its backstory, mixed in with the story going on in the shop around it.  Mr Nakano, shop owner, tries to woo a mistress and Masayo, his sister and helper, mourns a lost lover.  Hiromi and Takeo, the two college-aged shop attendants, grope to get each other’s attention.  The items in the shop express, in their very simplicity and solidity, graceful truths that their keepers have difficulty expressing.  Mr Nakano says, “you know what I mean” without meaning to.  Takeo apologizes out of habit.  Masayo and Hiromi miss chances to say, “I love you.”  But “the bottom of the gin jug… reflected a dusky and beautiful radiance,” (206) in her cheeks, and that says all that needs to be said at the moment.  Put together, the characters and their things communicate a delicate, timeless, and familiar beauty, a to which we can all relate. Europa Editions

Author: marilivtollefson

I teach and play violin when not reading and reviewing books. Thanks to indie authors for opening my world and sharing theirs! Find my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Midwest Book Review and BookPage, among others.

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