The Nakano Thrift Shop

Hiromi Kawakami

Published: 1 June 2017
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781846276026

Translated by Allison Markin Powell.


Among the jumble of paperweights, plates, typewriters and general bric-a-brac in Mr Nakano's thrift store, there are treasures to be found. Each piece carries its own story of love and loss - or so it seems to Hitomi, when she takes a job there working behind the till. Nor are her fellow employees any less curious or weatherworn than the items they sell. There's the store's owner, Mr Nakano, an enigmatic ladies' man with several ex-wives; Sakiko, his sensuous, unreadable lover; his sister, Masayo, an artist whose free-spirited creations mask hidden sorrows. And finally there's Hitomi's fellow employee, Takeo, whose abrupt and taciturn manner Hitomi finds, to her consternation, increasingly disarming.

A beguiling story of love found amid odds and ends, The Nakano Thrift Shop is a heart-warming and utterly charming novel from one of Japan's most celebrated contemporary novelists.

About the author

Image of Hiromi Kawakami

Born in 1958 in Tokyo, HIROMI KAWAKAMI is one of Japan's most popular contemporary novelists. She is the recipient of the Pascal Short Story Prize for New Writers and the Akutagawa Prize. Her novel Drowning won both the Ito Sei Literature Award and Joryu Bungaku Sho (Women Writers' Prize) in 2000. Her novel Manazuru won the 2011 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize. Strange Weather in Tokyo (Sensei no kaban) won the Tanizaki prize in 2001 and was shortlisted for both the 2013 Man Asian Literary Prize and the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. More about the author


The Nakano Thrift Shop is really a love story, albeit a very offbeat one... A gentle book, full of charm [and] radiating leftfield charisma’ Anna Fielding



‘A charming read from the bestselling Japanese author Hiromi Kawakami’

‘A novel about identity, loneliness and about non-conformism. With Kawakami's writing raising questions about sex and identity it is no surprise that her novels are so popular in structured, and often formal, Japan. This is a great novel and a highly accessible introduction to Japanese fiction.’

‘Charming’ Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Highly enjoyable and surprisingly accessible. Significant praise should be given to Allison Markin Powell's excellent work in translating the book’

‘Hitomi takes in her town's characters and dramas - and finds love - from behind the cash register.’

‘Kawakami is one of Japan's most popular contemporary novelists and, thanks to the Allison Markin Powell's translation, we get to enjoy this meandering and innocent novel... A tenderly handled mystery and a fractured love story. Delightful’ Rachel Howdle

‘One for the holiday suitcase’

‘Subtle, graceful, wise and threaded on a quirky humour, this exploration of the connections and disconnections between people kept me smiling long after the last page’ Julia Rochester, author

‘The delightful nature of the story comes from the magic of the ordinary and the everyday goings on in the shop owned by the enigmatic Mr Nakano’

‘The ever-readable, ebulliently-imaginative Japanese novelist burst the four small walls of Nakano-san's bric-a-brac shop with this tale of unusual, unrelated but inextricably intertwined characters’

‘Written in quietly understated prose infused with a gentle humour, Kawakami's novel is an absolute delight. The four principal characters are wonderfully driven - eccentric, idiosyncratic and thoroughly engaging. [...] I loved it - a welcome antidote to the twenty-four-hour misery cycle that is our news at the moment, and a reminder that joy can be found in the most prosaic of lives.’

Mind Unit - websites, content management and email marketing for the arts