My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Country: Japan (8 of 52)
Two beautifully written novellas about people dealing with grief - Kitchen No. 1 and Kitchen No. 2, also known as "Moonlight Shadow." Something that stuck out to me is the lack of internal dialogue; you never know what is going on until a character tells you, and so a lot of little details are left to be discovered.
In Kitchen, Mikage's grandmother (and last living relative) dies, and she goes to live with Yiuchi and his transgendered parent. There are lovely bits about how Mikage understands people through their kitchens, and the preparation of food is a major theme throughout. In Kitchen No. 2 (Moonlight Shadow), Satsuki is dealing with the loss of her boyfriend, by talking more with his brother and a mysterious stranger she met on the bridge. All these little details, like the way her boyfriend saved a bell she gave him, make these really special.
As far as the Japanese setting goes, it comes through in every detail, from the descriptions of the homes to the schooling to the food, to the frozen landscape. I will definitely read more of this author.