Synopses & Reviews
A searing debut novel from one of the most imaginative minds in fiction.
Kelly Luce's Pull Me Under tells the story of Rio Silvestri, who, when she was twelve years old, fatally stabbed a school bully. Rio, born Chizuru Akitani, is the Japanese American daughter of the revered violinist Hiro Akitani—a Living National Treasure in Japan and a man Rio hasn't spoken to since she left her home country for the United States (and a new identity) after her violent crime. Her father's death, along with a mysterious package that arrives on her doorstep in Boulder, Colorado, spurs her to return to Japan for the first time in twenty years. There she is forced to confront her past in ways she never imagined, pushing herself, her relationships with her husband and daughter, and her own sense of who she is to the brink.
The novel's illuminating and palpably atmospheric descriptions of Japan and its culture, as well its elegantly dynamic structure, call to mind both Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being and David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars. Pull Me Under is gripping, psychologically complex fiction—at the heart of which is an affecting exploration of home, self-acceptance, and the limits of forgiveness.
In Luce’s (Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail) debut novel a Japan born mother leaves her family in Colorado and travels back to Japan to attend the funeral of her estranged father a world renowned violinist. As a girl Rio Silvestri fatally stabbed a bully at school a crime whose shame led her to move to the United States change her name and keep her identity a secret from her husband and daughter. The novel’s first two acts deal directly with Rio’s slow exhumation of her past including a reunion with Ms. Danny her teacher at the time of the murder. After accompanying Ms. Danny on a revealing spiritual pilgrimage Rio unable to prove her identity is arrested by Japanese authorities at her childhood home. Her imprisonment brings her American family to Japan where her past is finally laid bare. Set mostly in the countryside Luce deftly evokes Japan without exoticizing it though a structure heavy on flashback undercuts too much of the drama. But the final act is the novel’s strongest and most confident weaving the book’s threads together and leaving a lasting reverberation. Agent: Katherine Fausset Curtis Brown. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Luce deftly evokes Japan without exoticizing it...the final act is the novel’s strongest and most confident, weaving the book’s threads together and leaving a lasting reverberation." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Kelly Luce is the author of Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail (2013), which won Foreword Reviews's 2013 Editor's Choice Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for book prizes from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Writers' League of Texas. Her work has been honored by fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, Jentel Arts, Tin House, and the Sewanee Writer's Conference, and has recently appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Electric Literature, New England Review, American Short Fiction, and other publications. She was a Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received her MFA. She lives in Northern California.
Kelly Luce on PowellsBooks.Blog
I met Shinobu for the first time in 2002 at a Subway shop in Kawasaki. Neither of us cared for the chain’s sandwiches, but the location was convenient and open late. We’d connected on a website that matched students with private English conversation teachers. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to be taking on private students...