"Asleep" by Banana Yoshimoto (translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich)
Asleep is a collection of three stories: Night and Night's Travellers, Love Songs, Asleep. All three deal with bereavement and the feelings of drifting in and out of consciousness it brings, finding oneself in a state of not quite being awake.
All characters have lost a person very dear to them. They try to help each other to bear the pain in superbly gentle, silent & tender ways. Each character is in a state of trance or haze and their dreams are a means through which their consciousness tries to reach out beyond the pain, and to return to a sense of normality, wounded but at peace and in acceptance of the blows of fate.
In Night and Night's travellers, Shibami has lost a brother, Mari has lost the love of her life. It is through a dream that Mari will sense a truth and perhaps a way beyond bereavement.
In Love Songs, Fumi's friend comes to her in a dream, it will offer her a way toward peace.
In Asleep, the narrator slowly falls into a state of unconsciousness after the death of her best friend. A warning & help come to her in a dream. Will she listen or is it too late?
As in Kitchen, Yoshimoto explores the aftermath of death, loss and the state of bereavement. Her exploration of the function of dreams, of being stuck in between two worlds are the themes I love so much in Haruki Murakami. .
Yoshimoto is a wonderful author. I wish I could read her in the original Japanese. Asleep is a 4/5 for me 😇