Original title: Shokudou Katatsumuri
Original language: Japanese
Translation to English by: Daid Karashima, 2011
Page count: 193
The back says: Returning home from work, Rinko is shocked to find that her flat is totally empty. Gone are her TV set, fridge and furniture, gone are all her kitchen tools, including the hundred-year-old pestle and mortar she has inherited from her grandmother and the Le Creuset casserole she has bought with her first salary. Gone, above all, is her Indian boyfriend, the maître d’ of the restaurant next door to the one she works in. She has no choice but to go back to her native village and her mother, on which she turned her back ten years ago as a fifteen-year-old girl.
There she decides to open a very special restaurant, one that serves food for only one table every day, according to the customers’ personal tastes and wishes. A concubine rediscovers her love for life, a girl is able to conquer the heart of her lover, a surly man is transformed into a lovable gentleman – all this happens at The Snail, the magic restaurant whose delicate food can heal any heartache and help its customers find love again.
I say: This review is going to be short because I don’t really have that much to say about this and don’t want to dwell on it. If I had known how many detailed descriptions of cooking that take place in this novel, I never would have bought it.
I am not very fond of food or cooking, so this was not for me.
Another thing I am not very fond of is the overuse of similes, and there is an abundance of similes on every page. Everything was like something else – often inane and uninspired – making the prose choppy and quite agonising to read. Add sentimentality, a non-conflict between mother and daughter, and prayers to the god of cooking, and I just continued to read because...
I honestly don’t even know why.
1.5/5 because the only interesting thing about this novel was the first paragraph detailing how Rinko returns to an empty apartment.