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Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

by

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister Cover

 

Staff Pick

This book reads like a dream, with moments of vivid detail punctuating a vague and unexplained narrative. Still, it is written in beautiful sentences that flow together perfectly. Though it never completely answers all your questions, the story is captivating and filled with lovely bits of the surreal. And like a dream, though it is unexplained, it is not unsatisfying.
Recommended by Michelle M, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An Indie Next Pick • An Amazon Best Book of the Month
One of Book Riot's 5 to Watch • An iBookstore Editor's Choice

"A mesmerizing debut at once sorrowful, intimate, and optimistic."*

Megumi, a young Japanese woman living in New York and hiding from her past, is hired to help rescue Thomas, an enigmatic, scarred man who has isolated himself in his bedroom for three years. With the tacit acceptance of Thomas's wife, a passionate relationship develops between Megumi and Thomas. Its emotional impact and surprising conclusion will leave all three characters forever changed. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, The Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.

"Strange and tender . . . [Backhaus's] writing, which is as clear and direct as flowing water, convincingly portrays the deepening connection

Review:

"Hikikomori, Backhaus explains in his implausible debut, is the Japanese term for withdrawn, an experience apparently more common than Silke Tessler realizes when she goes looking for help for her husband, Thomas, who shut himself up in a room three years earlier and has barely been outside of it since. Though the traditional 'rental sister' concept — evidently an antidote for a hikikomori — remains vague, in this novel it means that Silke hires a beautiful 22-year-old Japanese girl to bring Thomas back into the world. Lucky for him, oral sex and illicit nights together hiding from Silke work wonders with even the most reclusive. While the intellectual underpinning of the book could be said to pose interesting questions about guilt, love, and renewal, more often than not it reads like an adolescent fantasy in which Thomas, in order to save himself and his marriage, must subject himself to Megumi's 'immense' sexual appetite; what could be better than a wife-approved tryst with a publicly demure but privately voracious young woman who wants nothing in return? Blatant metaphors of winter, spring, and a spiritually cleansing trip to the hot springs don't buoy the disagreeable proceedings. Agent: David Marshall, Marshall Rights." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Named an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, one of Book Riot's 5 to Watch, and an iBookstore Editor's Choice, this acclaimed novel is now in paperback.

Megumi, a young Japanese woman living in New York and hiding from her past, is hired to help rescue Thomas, an enigmatic, scarred man who has isolated himself in his bedroom for three years. With the tacit acceptance of Thomas's wife, a passionate relationship develops between Megumi and Thomas. Its emotional impact and surprising conclusion will leave all three characters forever changed. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, The Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.

Synopsis:

hikikomori, n. h?kik?'mo?ri; literally pulling inward; refers to those who withdraw from society.

Inspired by the real-life Japanese social phenomenon called hikikomori and the professional "rental sisters" hired to help, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister is about an erotic relationship between Thomas, an American hikikomori, and Megumi, a young Japanese immigrant hiding from her own past. The strange, insular world they create together in a New York City bedroom and with the tacit acknowledgment of Thomas's wife reveals three human hearts in crisis, but leaves us with a profound faith in the human capacity to find beauty and meaning in life, even after great sorrow. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.

About the Author

Jeff Backhaus has been a cook, an art director, and a professional pilot. He has lived and worked in Korea, and now lives in New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781616201371
Author:
Backhaus, Jeff
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Fiction : Psychological
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20130131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister New Hardcover
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$23.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781616201371 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This book reads like a dream, with moments of vivid detail punctuating a vague and unexplained narrative. Still, it is written in beautiful sentences that flow together perfectly. Though it never completely answers all your questions, the story is captivating and filled with lovely bits of the surreal. And like a dream, though it is unexplained, it is not unsatisfying.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Hikikomori, Backhaus explains in his implausible debut, is the Japanese term for withdrawn, an experience apparently more common than Silke Tessler realizes when she goes looking for help for her husband, Thomas, who shut himself up in a room three years earlier and has barely been outside of it since. Though the traditional 'rental sister' concept — evidently an antidote for a hikikomori — remains vague, in this novel it means that Silke hires a beautiful 22-year-old Japanese girl to bring Thomas back into the world. Lucky for him, oral sex and illicit nights together hiding from Silke work wonders with even the most reclusive. While the intellectual underpinning of the book could be said to pose interesting questions about guilt, love, and renewal, more often than not it reads like an adolescent fantasy in which Thomas, in order to save himself and his marriage, must subject himself to Megumi's 'immense' sexual appetite; what could be better than a wife-approved tryst with a publicly demure but privately voracious young woman who wants nothing in return? Blatant metaphors of winter, spring, and a spiritually cleansing trip to the hot springs don't buoy the disagreeable proceedings. Agent: David Marshall, Marshall Rights." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Named an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, one of Book Riot's 5 to Watch, and an iBookstore Editor's Choice, this acclaimed novel is now in paperback.

Megumi, a young Japanese woman living in New York and hiding from her past, is hired to help rescue Thomas, an enigmatic, scarred man who has isolated himself in his bedroom for three years. With the tacit acceptance of Thomas's wife, a passionate relationship develops between Megumi and Thomas. Its emotional impact and surprising conclusion will leave all three characters forever changed. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, The Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.
"Synopsis" by ,

hikikomori, n. h?kik?'mo?ri; literally pulling inward; refers to those who withdraw from society.

Inspired by the real-life Japanese social phenomenon called hikikomori and the professional "rental sisters" hired to help, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister is about an erotic relationship between Thomas, an American hikikomori, and Megumi, a young Japanese immigrant hiding from her own past. The strange, insular world they create together in a New York City bedroom and with the tacit acknowledgment of Thomas's wife reveals three human hearts in crisis, but leaves us with a profound faith in the human capacity to find beauty and meaning in life, even after great sorrow. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.

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