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Sayonara Bar by Susan Barker

Sayonara Bar

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Set in a hostess bar is Osaka, Japan, with an odd mishmash of interesting, seedy or sinister characters of various nationalities, this is wild underworld stuff with raw emotions, slick writing, East versus West, modern versus traditional themes all bound into an extraordinarily stylish first novel. A sort of Manga/ Blade Runner cross.

Comparison: Haruki Murakami, Banana Yashimoto, Monique Truong.
Similar this month: None but try Taichi Yamada for another Japanese novel.

If you like Susan Barker you might also like to read books by Haruki Murakami, Monique Truong and Banana Yoshimoto.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Sayonara Bar by Susan Barker

Mary, a blond graduate from England, has drifted into a job in a hostess lounge in Osaka. She and other ‘economy geishasâ are employed by the enigmatic Mama san to spend their evenings flirting with rich Japanese salarymen, playing drinking games and taking turns in the karaoke booth. Mary is in love with Yuji, Mama sanâs handsome son. But Yujiâs loyalty is to the petty Yakuza gangster for whom he works.

Watanabe, the introverted cook, watches Mary from The Sayonara Barâs kitchen. He exists in his own manga-fuelled fantasy of the fourth dimension, and believes he can see into other peopleâs souls, as well as into the gurgling viscera of their bodies. When he perceives the danger of Maryâs growing obsession with Yuji, he resolves to protect her whatever the cost.

Mr Sato works for the Daiwa Trading Corporation. Obsessive overwork cannot cover the emptiness of his solitary life. Lured against his will to The Sayonara Bar by his boss, he finds himself returning there to escape his dead wifeâs ghost. Edgy, sly, and often very funny, SAYONARA BAR spins a kaleidoscopic, genre-crossing tale of people cut adrift in a shrinking, globalized world.


'With dry humour and crisp observation, Barker conveys the inner chaos masked by the external regimens of a society where intimacy is contrived, and loyalty is strained. Japan has not, for a long time, been made to seem so accessible, or so remote.'
Literary Review

'Neat suspense ... These three narratives blend into an unusual but satisfying whole.'

'Sayonara Bar is a showpiece of breathtaking new talent.'
Scottish Daily Record

About the Author

Susan Barker is twenty-five-years old, with a Chinese-Malay mother and an English father, and grew up in East London. She spent two years working in Japan after her graduation. She has just completed an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester University.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd January 2006


Susan Barker

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Transworld Publishers Ltd


Paperback (b Format)


Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
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