Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Tessler, devastated by a tragedy, has cloistered himself in his bedroom and shut out the world for the past three years. His wife, Silke, lives in the next room, but Thomas no longer shares his life with her, leaving his hideout only in the wee hours of the night to buy food at the store around the corner from their Manhattan apartment. Isolated, withdrawn, damaged, Thomas is hikikomori.
Desperate to salvage their life together, Silke hires Megumi, a young Japanese woman attuned to the hikikomori phenomenon, to lure Thomas back into the world. In Japan Megumi is called a “rental sister,” though her job may involve much more than familial comforts. As Thomas grows to trust Megumi, a deepening and sensual relationship unfolds. But what are the risks of such intimacy? And what must these three broken people surrender in order to find hope?
Revelatory and provocative, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister tears through the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the waiting world outside.
“Backhauss strange and tender debut novel . . . traces the painful rehabilitations of three lonely souls. His writing . . . is clear and direct as flowing water.”
—Wall Street Journal Library Journal
“[A] quiet but poignant exploration of loneliness and self-discovery.”
“Stephen Bowlbys use of an unemotional voice for narrator Thomas captures the tone of this quirky, spare story of loneliness, grief, and love. . . . With this debut, Backhaus proves he is an author to watch. Recommended.”
Spare, erotic, and original, this novel celebrates the human capacity to find beauty and meaning in life, even after great sorrow.
About the Author
STEPHEN BOWLBY earned his BA in Speech & Theater at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, a short trip from his native North Jersey. His career quickly moved from commercial radio into television and film production as a writer, editor, and director with voice work ever present. With more than 35 years experience hes expanded into audiobook performance, studying with such industry greats as Pat Fraley, Scott Brick, and Stefan Rudnicki.