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If You Follow Me (P.S.)by Malena Watrous
Synopses & Reviews
Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father's suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past... or anything else, for that matter.
If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters — from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion — it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.
"In Watrous's proficient debut, 22-year-old Marina and her girlfriend Carolyn are new residents in a quirky Japanese town where they teach English while learning their own lessons about gomi, or garbage disposal. Aside from the local obsession with trash, living in smalltown Shika is a welcome respite for Marina, who grapples with her father's suicide (he was indirectly responsible for her introduction to Carolyn; they met in a bereavement group), and although she hopes to move past his death during her year in Japan, he begins to feel more alive to her, as if his presence made the trip as well. Meanwhile, the peculiar absurdities of being a stranger in a strange land abound (how does one properly dispose of a refrigerator?), and though this tale of culture shock, growing up, and throwing out isn't especially distinguished from its fish-out-of-water peers, it does the trick as a diversion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[D]eft, funny, and emotionally acute.... Defying the genre's perils, Watrous's book crackles with atmospheric detail and sharp dialogue, and tells a vivid story of an American confronting grief and self-knowledge in an unfamiliar place." Boston Globe
"Malena Watrous's writing is sharp-edged and generous, tragic and true. I would follow her anywhere." Katharine Noel, author of Halfway House
"Debut author Watrous, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, renders lively prose and memorable characters." Booklist
"Graceful, smart, and filled with wonder, If You Follow Meis a heartfelt delight from beginning to end." Katharine Noel, author of Halfway House
"I love, love, love IF YOU FOLLOW ME. It's fearlessly honest, occasionally heartbreaking, and extremely funny, and I can't recommend it highly enough." Thisbe Nissen, author of Osprey Island
“I love, love, love If You Follow Me. Its fearlessly honest, occasionally heartbreaking, and extremely funny, and I cant recommend it highly enough.” — Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife
“Graceful, smart, and filled with wonder, If You Follow Me is a heartfelt delight from beginning to end.” — Michelle Richmond, bestselling author of The Year of Fog
Beautifully wrought and deftly written, If You Follow Me is the stunning debut novel from author Malena Watrous. It tells the story of Marina, who moves to Japan to teach English shortly after her fathers tragic suicide, and finds unexpected solace with her Japanese supervisor and seemingly indifferent neighbors. Fans of the works of Curtis Sittenfeld, Diana Spechler, and Min Jin Lee, as well as those interested in Japanese culture, will love If You Follow Me.
About the Author
Malena Watrous's short fiction has appeared in Story Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Triquarterly, The Massachusetts Review, and Kyoto Journal. The winner of the Michener-Copernicus Award, she lives in San Francisco.
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