Synopses & Reviews
“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.
"[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
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.
"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." -- Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife
In Malena Watrous' beautifully wrought and deftly written debut novel, we meet Marina, a young woman who has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. For her, Shika is more than just her home as a "temporary person." It's also an attempt to escape the reality that has followed her since her father committed suicide only a year earlier.
Marina is a big city girl is in a small town filled with off-beat characters, including an ambitious town matchmaker, a dentist looking for free English lessons, a high school student who idolizes Western rap artists, and finally Marina's America-obsessed supervisor, Hiro, a town leader whose friendship teaches her more than she ever expected.
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 that explores the tension of being the outsider in an intimate community and the joy in finding that human nature is the same everywhere.
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.