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"Asleep" tells the stories of three women, all bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning a lost love, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, embarking on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself unable to stay awake. The third finds her sleep haunted.
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Banana Yoshimoto's Asleep is actually three novellas: "Night and Night's Travelers", "Love Songs" and "Asleep". The death of those close to the narrator is a recurring theme in the stories with sleep being used as a vehicle in which the everyday is denied whilst more important spiritual matters--coming to terms with the death, and life, of loved ones--can be achieved. In "Night and Night's Travelers" the narrator's brother has died and his lover has begun sleepwalking--her night-walks are a communion, a curse and a blessing, and a route through to understanding. In "Love Songs", a woman involved with a man whose wife is in a coma begins to sleep uncontrollably. In "Asleep" the narrator is haunted by an old rival in a love triangle--again, through sleep, and perhaps through dreams or a certain kind of sensibility, a hitherto forbidden or foreclosed communion flourishes. Yoshimoto has a wonderfully light touch and whilst the characterisation in these novellas is slight and the mysticism a little cloying, the optimism is infectious and the sadness beautifully articulated. "Asleep" is well worth staying awake for..Review:
'Compact, accessible and dangerously addictive.' The Times
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