Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister cover

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister; Jeff Backhaus

Book review by Kristy Webster
Thursday Review Contributing Writer

A hikikomori is the name given to young Japanese men who have completely withdrawn from society, sometimes going years without leaving their rooms. In this brave and lyrical novel, Jeff Backhaus brings this phenomenon to New York. Thomas, an American hikikomori has shut himself into his room for three years after a devastating and tragic loss leaves him guilt ridden and emotionally paralyzed. His wife Silke who is barely holding on to her own sanity hires Megumi, a young Japanese woman to be Thomas's "rental sister"--a woman enlisted to help hikikomori rejoin the world. Intimate and sensual, the relationships between Thomas, Megumi and Silke are the beautiful, beating heart of this gorgeous novel.

Available through Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill.