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Harmless Like You

by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

eBooks of the Month Family Drama Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Harmless Like You

The Desmond Elliott Shortlist 2017Shortlisted 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

Joanne Owen

Harmless Like You Synopsis

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2016 BAMB READERS AWARD FOR BREAKTHROUGH AUTHOR. Written in startlingly beautiful prose, HARMLESS LIKE YOU is set across New York, Berlin and Connecticut, following the stories of Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki's son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old.

Harmless Like You Press Reviews

'This brilliant debut novel by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is cause for celebration.' Lorrie Moore

'Impressive ... Rowan Hisayo Buchanan [is] a 27-year-old with a very big literary career in front of her ... Slick and intelligent... it's the subtle brilliance of Buchanan's back-to-front tale that really left me reeling. Stylist

'Elegant, accomplished debut... Although this is a dark novel, it is also as rich and vivid as the chapter headings descriptions of paint colours' Express

'This beautiful novel explores creativity and the complicated relationships between parents and children. Psychologies This elegant and moving novel burns slowly, building in intensity as it develops to explore the subjects of identity, alienation and desire.' Fanny Blake, Daily Mail

'Harmless Like You is a refreshing, bold book about understatement.' Sunday Telegraph

'It's pretty rare that a book takes my breath away. But I guarantee Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's beautiful debut, Harmless Like You, will do just that ... in its purest sense, Harmless Like You is a novel about art and abandonment but, far more than that, it's an engrossing human story of two people who can't find themselves, let alone each other; about what love looks like to different people, and how you learn to give it or feel it. Or, indeed, don't. Buchanan nails decades-long loneliness in a way that will leave your heart hurting.' Sam Baker, The Pool

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781473638327
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Publisher: Sceptre an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781473638327
Publication date: 11th August 2016
Author: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Publisher: Sceptre an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 320 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

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

More About Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

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