By Margot Mifflin
Updated January 15, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Banana Yoshimoto won immediate fame in Japan with the publication of this pair of novellas about two bold and guileless women grappling with emotional loss. In Kitchen, a Tokyo college student develops a dangerous sense of isolation after being orphaned, but she finds a loving family in a classmate and his ravishing transvestite father. When the father is murdered, the two friends confront a grief that will seal or break their bond. Although it features similarly graceful, featherlight sentences, ”Moonlight Shadow” is weighed down by excessive sentiment. Kitchen is worth the price of both. Kitchen: A- Moonlight Shadow: B-