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Hikikomori and the Rental Sisterby Jeff Backhaus
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.
Synopses & Reviews
hikikomori, n. hɪkikəˈmoʊri; literally pulling inward; refers to those who withdraw from society.
"Hikikomori, Backhaus explains in his implausible debut, is the Japanese term for withdrawn, an experience apparently more common than Silke Tessler realizes when she goes looking for help for her husband, Thomas, who shut himself up in a room three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.
Thomas Tessler has cloistered himself in his bedroom and shut out the world for the past three years. His wife, Silke, lives right in the next room, but Thomas no longer shares his life with her, leaving his hideout only occasionally, in the wee hours of the night, to pick up food at the grocery store around the corner from their Manhattan apartment. Unable to cope with a devastating loss, Thomas has become isolated and withdrawn. He is hikikomori.
Desperate for one last chance to salvage their life together, Silke hires Megumi, a young
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.
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