First published in Japan in 2003 and never before published in the United States, Dead-End Memories collects the stories of five women who, following sudden and painful events, quietly discover their ways back to recovery.
... strange, melancholy and beautiful ... In Mama! — one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever read — Mimi, a publishing company employee, is poisoned by a disgruntled co-worker ... Yoshimoto’s lonely women have more in common with the bachelor characters of, say, Bernard Malamud or Leonard Michaels or Haruki Murakami. They also resemble, in their awkward but striking agency, the characters of Alice Munro’s best short stories about young womanhood, by turns comedic, sad and aching for connection ... The spiky fictions of Anglophone literature of the past decade — staked on the idea of passivity as agency within a violent, dystopian, capitalist hellscape — are cutting and observant; but sometimes they leave the reader wondering: When can books be warm again? When can we have feelings again? Yoshimoto’s protagonists go out and act, they feel, they express, even if only to themselves. Even at their loneliest, these characters are a part of something, whether a relationship, a friendship, a family, a workplace, a society, a world ... These stories made me believe again that it was possible to write honestly, rigorously, morally, about the material reality of characters; to write toward human warmth as a reaffirmation of the bonds that tie us together. This is a supremely hopeful book, one that feels important because it shows that happiness, while not always easy, is still a subject worthy of art.
... brilliantly relevant ... open, accessible simplicity that belies revelatory observations about life, love, happiness, and more ... Bittersweet yet radiant, poignant yet promising, Yoshimoto once again showcases her dazzling appeal.
... resonant ... Yoshimoto embellishes these gorgeously written entries with sensual descriptions of food and sex, and makes them memorable by showing how the women set themselves free from misfortune via friendship and resilience. This is a gem.