[Looking for nominations!] Intermediate Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: セーラー服と機関銃


Author: 吉本ばなな (Yoshimoto Banana)





Tsugumi is a sickly but feisty and somewhat unpleasant young girl living in a small Japanese seaside town at the family inn with her parents, sister Yoko, aunt Masako, and cousin Maria (the protagonist). Following the divorce of Maria’s father, Maria and Masako move to Tokyo to be with him, where Maria attends university. Shortly after the move, Maria receives a call from Tsugumi to say that the family are selling the inn. Maria returns to the town for one last summer to remember her childhood and reconcile her strained relationship with Tsugumi while she still can. But then they didn’t realize the true display of true will.
(taken from Wikipedia)



Personal Opinion

We read another book of this author, “Kitchen”, a while ago in this book club, and I thought it might be about time to try some more of her writing. I was a bit torn between this book, which contains one long story, and another one (called とかげ), which contains 6 short stories. In the end I thought that it might be nicer for the book club to have an ongoing story, so it might be easier to settle into the narrative and discuss the ongoing events etc. If we pick and like this one, I might end up nominating the other one at a later point in time :wink:

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • We already read a book by the same author (“Kitchen”), and it was quite well-received
  • Not too long at 245 pages.
  • Won the Yamamoto Shuugorou Prize (which is awarded annually to a new work of fiction considered to exemplify the art of storytelling) in 1989
  • Available in English as “Goodbye Tsugumi”


  • When reading Kitchen, I sometimes found the author’s way of writing to be a bit vague and thus slightly more difficult to understand than a straightforward narrative.


First Three Pages of Chapter One


Additional Pages

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters