"NP," by Banana Yoshimoto, translated from the Japanese by Ann Sherif. 194 pages. Washington Square Press. $10 The Japanese equivalent of the Brat Pack novelists of the '80s, Banana Yoshimoto enjoys a growing popularity in the United States. " NP" stands for " North Point," a collection of 97 short stories by a noted writer who recently killed himself. His death resulted from his contemplation of the mysterious 98th story, which also precipitated the suicides of several translators, including narrator Kazami Kano's first boyfriend. As Kazami gradually discovers the secrets of the author's bizarre, incestuous family, dark, unsettling secrets are related as if they were ordinary events in the life of a typical young woman.
"Natural Light and the Italian Piazza," by Sandra Davis Lakeman. 109 pages. Natural Light Books. $24.94
Lakeman's text reads like an unfocused academic paper, but her glowing photographs of Sienna leave the reader longing to catch the next plane to Italy. These studies of light and shadow reflect the sensitivity of Medieval and Renaissance architects who carefully oriented their buildings to create an extraordinarily harmonious environment for human pastimes.