Clarissa Goenawans dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko's sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister's affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politicians mansion in exchange for reading to the mans catatonic wife.As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind....
|Number of Pages||:||323 pages|
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What a profound read. Filled with the subtle layers of grief, RAINBIRDS hypnotized me. A touch of mystery regarding Keiko's death gave the plot an ending point, but for me, this story is about Ren. His quiet strength and deep love for his sister created made him easy to connect to, and I fell into the sparse, elegant prose. Overall, I took my time with this one and I'm happy I did as RAINBIRDS isn't a book to be rushed.
Big thanks to Clarissa Goenawan for sending me a review copy!
Why I Love It
by BOTM Editorial Director Siobhan Jones
Part of being on the editorial team here at BOTM means that I read the opening chapters of literally dozens of books each month. When I come across a story that makes me slow down and not look up until I’ve read from cover to cover, I know I’ve found something special.
This happened to me with Rainbirds. The writing grabbed me immediately—it’s whispery and elegant. Even the chapter titles are evocative, like snatches of barely-remembered dreams ...more
If you are a fan of Japanese novels, you will enjoy this wonderful book . The writing is amazing in its simplicity and the characters are compelling.
RAINBIRDS is a compelling and thoughtful story set in Japan in 1994. It's the story of Ren Ishida whose sister, Keiko, has just been murdered in her prime. Ren moves to the small town where Keiko lived and worked and takes a job at the school where Keiko taught. There he meets a beautiful but troubled student called Rio and discovers painful secrets about the past. The prose is clean and evocative with a light magic realism touch and hits the sweet spot between beautiful and couldn't-put-it-down ...more
Rainbirds is a story about grief, and the lengths we will go through to resolve it. Goenawan writes with precise beauty, as we follow a brother intent on saying goodbye to a beloved sister who died too soon. Equal parts sinister and heartbreaking, Rainbirds will stay with you long after you read the final page. This is a must read for 2018!
Ren Ishida is stunned when he learns of his sister Keiko’s murder. He leaves Tokyo and his studies to travel to Akakawa to wrap up his sister’s affairs. Events lead to his taking over his sister’s job as a teacher and moving into her room in a rich politician’s home, taking over Keiko’s arrangement of reading to his housebound wife. As he delves into his sister’s life in Akakawa, he learns that she hid many things from him.
This book is peopled with many interesting characters and has a haunted ...more
I was fortunate enough to receive an Advance Review Copy of this novel which comes out next year.
Fans of Murakami will not be disappointed by this lyrical, spell-binding evocation of a narrator who finds himself alone and grieving in a sleepy Japanese town.
I lost myself in Goenawan’s prose, in the effortless detail of everyday life and in the brooding mood that hung over every action.
I received an advance uncopyedited edition of Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan from a Goodreads giveaway. It might not have been a book I picked up, but the cover drew me, as did the blurbs. This book, the writing, the story, were highly praised and I was curious. And I am so glad I read it. Clarissa Goenawan has written luminously beautiful story that I won't soon forget. Her writing is sparse, evocative and flawless. Told in the present with seamless flashbacks, it conveyed the quiet grief of th ...more