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Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a Japanese-British-Chinese-American writer. She has a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is currently working on a PhD at the University of East Anglia. Her writing has appeared in, among other places, Granta, Guernica and The Harvard Review and she received a Margins fellowship for the Asian American Writers Workshop. She has lived in London, New York, Tokyo, Madison and Norwich.
Author photo © Eric Tortora Pato
Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017. Traversing continents and generations, this sublime debut explores identity, self-sacrifice and dislocation with elegance and wit. It’s 1968 and Yuki Oyama decides to stay in New York with her friend, Odile and her friend’s mother, Lillian, when her parents return to Japan. “I wouldn't belong”, she muses, plus “she didn't want to be her mother following a sad man around the world”. Despite sharing a bed with Odile, Yuki never feels close to her. Odile is wrapped up in forging a modeling career, and then heads to Italy, abandoning Yuki to Lillian and her violent boyfriend. Abandonment, loneliness, and seeking solace from loneliness are recurring themes. Some years later, when she has a home, a husband who loves her, a baby son, and the talent to be an artist, Yuki remains unsettled, and feels a desperate desire to leave. A sense of longing - and never quite belonging - is poignantly evoked as the narrative alternates between Yuki’s story through the seventies, and her son’s life in 2016, culminating in a tense, bittersweet reconciliation in Berlin, where she’s made her home. While this novel’s language treads soft, it leaves a deep imprint, and makes for a powerfully, memorable reading experience. ~ Joanne Owen