Rainbirds

Rainbirds

Clarissa Goenawan’s 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...

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Title:Rainbirds
Author:Clarissa Goenawan
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Rainbirds Reviews

  • Kathleen Flynn

    Written in a spare, minimalist style with hints of magical realism that feels very Japanese, Rainbirds tells the story of a man in his 20s whose older sister is murdered. He leaves Tokyo for the small town where she had been living in an effort to understand the sister he realizes he didn't know as well as he thought he did -- or should have. Haunted by regrets and curiosity, he finds himself stepping into her shoes in certain ways: taking over the job she had teaching English at a cram school,

    Written in a spare, minimalist style with hints of magical realism that feels very Japanese, Rainbirds tells the story of a man in his 20s whose older sister is murdered. He leaves Tokyo for the small town where she had been living in an effort to understand the sister he realizes he didn't know as well as he thought he did -- or should have. Haunted by regrets and curiosity, he finds himself stepping into her shoes in certain ways: taking over the job she had teaching English at a cram school, renting the same room in a house she did... At points it seems like a whodunit, at others more like a ghost story, but ultimately resists both these genre classifications. Rainbirds is set in the early 1990s, before cellphones and the internet changed everyone's lives forever, and it's odd how that gives it the flavor of a remote past, and a mysterious, brooding atmosphere.

  • Caroline Ambrose

    RAINBIRDS is a compelling and thoughtful story set in Japan in 1994. It's the story of Ren Ishida whose sister, Keiko, has just been murdered in her prime. Ren moves to the small town where Keiko lived and worked and takes a job at the school where Keiko taught. There he meets a beautiful but troubled student called Rio and discovers painful secrets about the past. The prose is clean and evocative with a light magic realism touch and hits the sweet spot between beautiful and couldn't-put-it-down

    RAINBIRDS is a compelling and thoughtful story set in Japan in 1994. It's the story of Ren Ishida whose sister, Keiko, has just been murdered in her prime. Ren moves to the small town where Keiko lived and worked and takes a job at the school where Keiko taught. There he meets a beautiful but troubled student called Rio and discovers painful secrets about the past. The prose is clean and evocative with a light magic realism touch and hits the sweet spot between beautiful and couldn't-put-it-down.

  • Elisa Lodato

    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.

  • Julia Buckley

    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

    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 to put down.

  • Abduraafi Andrian

    Ulasan di Jurnal Ruang:

    Percakapan-percakapan yang diciptakan di dalamnya begitu luruh, membuatku ikut hanyut bersama para tokoh. Aku bahkan ingin memulai semuanya kembali sesaat setelah mengakhiri buku ini. Riuh dalam kesederhanaan.

    Aku berjanji akan membacanya lagi suatu hari nanti. Bertemu Ren yang mencari fakta atas kematian kakaknya, Keiko. Semoga.

    Terjemahannya juara!!!

  • Leslie Ray

    This was an engaging debut novel. The writing is minimalist and may not be for everyone. However, the thoughtful reflections on love, loss, and regret more than make up for this spare type of writing, which I found quite compelling. There is a mystery in that Ren Ichida seeks to find out who murdered his sister, Keiko, in the small, remote town of Akakawa, Japan. As he seeks answers he finds himself drawn into her former life and actually teaching at the school she had taught at prior to her mur

    This was an engaging debut novel. The writing is minimalist and may not be for everyone. However, the thoughtful reflections on love, loss, and regret more than make up for this spare type of writing, which I found quite compelling. There is a mystery in that Ren Ichida seeks to find out who murdered his sister, Keiko, in the small, remote town of Akakawa, Japan. As he seeks answers he finds himself drawn into her former life and actually teaching at the school she had taught at prior to her murder.

    There were many layers to this narrative which was told with a subtle and lyrical quality that compels you to read this as quickly as possible. I look forward to more books from this author.

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 There is something so distinctive about Japanese novels. The spare writing for one, not that there are no descriptions, but only as much as the reader needs to know for the story, no words wasted. The unemotional tone to the writing, for another, yet one can feel the emotions brimming under a veneer of formal manners and respectability.

    Ren is a young man who is basically following in his elder sisters footsteps, almost done with his degree when his sister is murdered. Putting everything els

    3.5 There is something so distinctive about Japanese novels. The spare writing for one, not that there are no descriptions, but only as much as the reader needs to know for the story, no words wasted. The unemotional tone to the writing, for another, yet one can feel the emotions brimming under a veneer of formal manners and respectability.

    Ren is a young man who is basically following in his elder sisters footsteps, almost done with his degree when his sister is murdered. Putting everything else on hold, he travels to the town where she had been living, where he finds once again he is following his sisters footsteps. Living in the same place, taking a temporary job teaching at the school she taught. This is a very tightly controlled story, but not one without some ominious and surprising happenings. As he tries to put everything together, it will lead back to revelations in his own family.Ren himself will find himself sorely tested when one of his students tries to take her crush on him too far.

    I enjoyed this, although I like many different kinds of writing, it is nice to read something a little different. Learning something too about the differences in cultures and mores. Thought this was quite well done, and the cover is gorgeous as well.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Holly  B

    A whodunit based in Japan.

    A character study with a Japanese flair. There is a mystery, but this one is really a literary fiction with some moments of suspense and plenty of secrets to unravel. I was ever so curious while reading and wanted to know why someone would murder Ren’s sister, Keiko, in such a violent way. Ren is a graduate student and gives up his studies to move to his sister’s small town in Japan (Akakawa). He starts to piece together some clues that he hopes will give him some answe

    A whodunit based in Japan.

    A character study with a Japanese flair. There is a mystery, but this one is really a literary fiction with some moments of suspense and plenty of secrets to unravel. I was ever so curious while reading and wanted to know why someone would murder Ren’s sister, Keiko, in such a violent way. Ren is a graduate student and gives up his studies to move to his sister’s small town in Japan (Akakawa). He starts to piece together some clues that he hopes will give him some answers.

    I just adored the Japanese names, the food, the culture and learning the backstory of Ren and his sister. There is a touch of beautiful magical realism through some dreams, which adds another layer of intrigue.

    The pace is slow, but captivating with moments of humor, candor and whimsy. I really liked getting to know Ren, his flaws and his intense love for his sister.

    If you don’t mind a slow reveal, this one has some interesting characters and was a breath of fresh air (for me).

  • Justin Tate

    The opposite of action-packed, but not necessarily boring. It’s a bit like watching gold fish. Nothing exciting happens but you still can’t turn away. The first few pages introduce the premise: a guy’s sister has been murdered and he learns a lot about himself and her as he picks up clues slowly revealing whodunnit. Or so we think!

    Don’t get excited though. This isn’t your typical mystery novel. It’s slow and meditative throughout. Not for someone who frequently says “when is something going to h

    The opposite of action-packed, but not necessarily boring. It’s a bit like watching gold fish. Nothing exciting happens but you still can’t turn away. The first few pages introduce the premise: a guy’s sister has been murdered and he learns a lot about himself and her as he picks up clues slowly revealing whodunnit. Or so we think!

    Don’t get excited though. This isn’t your typical mystery novel. It’s slow and meditative throughout. Not for someone who frequently says “when is something going to happen?!”

    As someone not familiar with Japanese art and literature I enjoyed the unique change of pace. There’s a lot of Japanese culture in this book and it’s interesting to see that juxtaposed with what could be a western murder mystery.

    All in all though, I have to say that with so many books and so little time you’ll probably regret getting involved with this one. Feel free to skip.

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