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
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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.

  • Carol Potenza

    I received an advance uncopyedited edition of Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan from a Goodreads giveaway. It might not have been a book I picked up, but the cover drew me, as did the blurbs. This book, the writing, the story, were highly praised and I was curious. And I am so glad I read it. Clarissa Goenawan has written luminously beautiful story that I won't soon forget. Her writing is sparse, evocative and flawless. Told in the present with seamless flashbacks, it conveyed the quiet grief of th

    I received an advance uncopyedited edition of Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan from a Goodreads giveaway. It might not have been a book I picked up, but the cover drew me, as did the blurbs. This book, the writing, the story, were highly praised and I was curious. And I am so glad I read it. Clarissa Goenawan has written luminously beautiful story that I won't soon forget. Her writing is sparse, evocative and flawless. Told in the present with seamless flashbacks, it conveyed the quiet grief of the protagonist, Ren Ishida, as he negotiates the world--his world-- after the murder of his sister. Before her death, he was a young man drifting in life, with one anchor: his sister Keiko. Both children were estranged from their parents and Ren, whether he knew it or not, seemed to live for his sister's weekly calls. When she was killed, he was the only one who followed her, who asked questions, who appeared to care that she was gone. As if our lives are like deep furrows across the earth, Ren falls into Keiko's and picks up her journey and discovers a lot he doesn't know about Keiko and a lot he doesn't know about himself. This is not a whodunit by any means, but he does find out who killed her and why, and in that journey learns quite a bit about the people who touched her life and how letting go does not mean forgetting. The story has an emotional pull that is compelling, just like the pull that kept Ren walking in his sister's footsteps. He knows he is grieving, and the reader grieves with him, but the emotion is subdued, maybe even confused at first. But his confusion lifts as he lives in his sister's world. You can see his growth. And by the end, when Ren scatters his sister's ashes, I knew Clarissa had also led me on a journey of loss and recovery. I finished his story with the feeling that Ren would be all right, even if his final actions made my eyes burn with tears. This is a great story. I highly recommend Rainbirds.

  • 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!!!

  • Kate Olson

    A quietly wonderful literary family mystery set in a small town in Japan, this is a debut that I am SO happy I had the chance to read early. This is NOT a thriller or a fast-paced suspense story. It IS an incredibly thoughtful and spare story with hints of magical realism. Thanks to the publisher for the digital advance copy!

  • 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).

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