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|
|Url Type||:||Home » Rainbirds » Rainbirds|
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
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
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.
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.
This book was a pleasant surprise--spare and lyrical prose in what seemed part Japanese novel, part mystery, part poetry. While the plot didn't always go in the direction I imagined it would and a few scenes seemed inauthentic to the overall story, there were unforgettable details in the tale of Ren Ishida and his visit to the town where his sister was murdered. Goenawan's imagery was particularly evocative when she wrote about her main character's dreams. A powerful read and one that was hard t ...more
Clarissa Goenawan’s Rainbirds begins with Ren Ishida going to scatter his murdered sister’s ashes. The remainder of the story unfolds in a series of dreams mixed with real-time set in a small town, Akakawa. One rainy night, the sister, Keiko, was murdered on her way home from work. The police are unable to uncover any leads. The brother and sister were close, so as Ren winds up his sister’s affairs, he determines to find out who murdered her as well as why Keiko abandoned him and their home in T ...more
RAINBIRDS is slightly different from my usual cup of tea. I love that I got the chance to read something outside my comfort zone. Plus, it's set in Japan.
The book opens with a murder. Let me tell you, I've been guessing left and right the entire time and still got it wrong. That should say something about the author's brilliant mind. The ending leaves me thirsty for more, definitely thirsty for (more) vengeance. Though the story tends to lean toward the dark, the writing is clean, beautiful, an ...more
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Lindsey Williams
I was not very far into Rainbirds, the debut novel by Clarissa Goenawan, when I realized that this book was something special. The story follows Ren Ishida, a graduate student from Tokyo who is nearing his degree, when he gets the news that his older sister, Keiko, has been murdered.
Ren travels alone to Akakawa, the small town in which his sister had lived in for the past several years, where he picks up the pieces of her life an ...more