Monday, May 3, 2021

Book Review - The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida; Clarissa Goenawan

 

TITLE/AUTHOR The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida ; Clarissa Goenawan

PUBLISHER: Soho Press

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction / Psych Fiction / Magical Realism

FORMAT:  ARC LENGTH: 269 pp.

SOURCE:  Amazon Vine/publisher

SETTING(s):  Japan


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A young woman commits suicide leaving her three friends to figure out why she took her own life.

BRIEF REVIEW:   We briefly meet Miwako Sumida at the beginning of the novel. She is a young woman who comes across as strong, independent and not needing many people in her life.  In her second year as university student she chooses to end her life by hanging herself and now her friends need answers.

Set in 1990's Japan, the story is divided into three parts from which we get different perspectives of who Miwako was and what might have driven her to suicide.  There is Ryusei (Ryu) the young man who loved her but,  yet she chose to keep him at a distance.  Fumi is Ryusei's sister but, only knew the deceased through Ryu. She gave Miwako a job at her art studio and the two got along well until Miwako disappears without notice. Chie was Miwako's best friend - she joins Ryu on a pilgrimage to Kitsuyma, a remote forested village, the place where Miwako committed suicide. 

This was such an addictive novel.  It's a mystery, a spiritual journey and a story of self-discovery all in one.  Each of the flawed characters has a story to tell which speaks to the reader about the powerful and destructive impact of holding on too tightly to painful secrets. The author employs some similar techniques fans of Haruki Murakami might recognize.  There were a few supernatural elements and a "cat", the story flowed well and never felt over the top.  In 2018 I had read the author's debut novel, Rainbirds, also about an unexpected suicide and a search for answers. I was quite impressed  with that novel as well.  Both of this author's books are highly recommended


RATING:  4.5/5 stars

19 comments:

  1. Sounds sad, good, but sad.

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  2. I haven't read this author, your review makes me want to.

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  3. I love the sound of this one! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It was a compelling story with a mystery element as well.

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  4. I like the idea of getting to know the deceased through 3 other characters. I think we forget that we are different people to all those we encounter.

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    1. That is so true - depending who we are interacting with. I have found the older I've gotten the more I am "what you see is what you get."

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  5. Sounds like a powerful read!

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  6. This sounds like a thoughtful read. Almost everyone knows at least one example of suicide and can't help wondering and wanting answers.

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    1. There were a lot of surprises to be found in this story - very good writing.

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  7. Thanks for bringing her to my attention...new author for me, and I am as intrigued by Japanese settings as I've ever been - even after reading Murata's "Earthlings."

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    1. I've had terrific luck with stories set in Japan or translated from the Japanese. This one and Rainbirds were very good. I can't wait to read you Earthlings thoughts --OMG that ending!

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  8. I'm adding this one to my TBR list. It sounds like a winner.

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  9. This author is new to me. This book sounds profound and touching. Wonderful review, Diane!

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  10. Great review, Diane! This is an author I definitely need to check out as the story sounds really interesting.

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  11. Wow, this sounds like an unusual but powerful novel. Thanks for the review!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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  12. Adding this to my list because you liked it so much and it's short :)

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