Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

by Jeff Backhaus
Narrated by Stephen Bowlby

Highbridge Company | January 8, 2013 | Audio Book (CD)

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister is rated 4 out of 5 by 1.
Thomas Tessler, devastated by a tragedy, has cloistered himself in his bedroom and shut out the world for the past three years. His wife, Silke, lives in the next room, but Thomas no longer shares his life with her, leaving his hideout only in the wee hours of the night to buy food at the store around the corner from their Manhattan apartment. Isolated, withdrawn, damaged, Thomas is hikikomori.
 
 Desperate to salvage their life together, Silke hires Megumi, a young Japanese woman attuned to the hikikomori phenomenon, to lure Thomas back into the world. In Japan Megumi is called a "rental sister," though her job may involve much more than familial comforts. As Thomas grows to trust Megumi, a deepening and sensual relationship unfolds. But what are the risks of such intimacy? And what must these three broken people surrender in order to find hope?
 
 Revelatory and provocative, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister tears through the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the waiting world outside.

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Dimensions: 390 pages, 5.88 × 5.06 × 0.63 in

Published: January 8, 2013

Publisher: Highbridge Company

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1611749182

ISBN - 13: 9781611749182

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Withdrawn but not alone "Hikikomori" is a social phenomenon where individuals acutely withdraw from society and lead a solitary life within the confines of their own home. It is recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in definable terms, and has such a rippling effect on those connected to hikikomoris, and on the fabric of Japanese society, that there are professionals who work towards helping such recluses out of their isolation. Jeff Backhaus writes of a hikikomori living in New York. Thomas has shut himself in his bedroom away from the world for 3 years, only venturing out in the cover of night once in a while to stock up on food. His wife, Silke, is almost at her breaking point - she's just as lost as Thomas is, and in addition, is desperate to get the man she loves back. She hires Megumi, an immigrant from Japan as a "rental sister" as a last-ditch attempt to help coax Thomas out of his room. "Hikikomori and the Rental Sister" unfolds in three acts: The Isolation, The Contact, and The Aftermath. Each act reveals something more of Thomas, Megumi, and Silke, and the circumstances that they have found themselves in. The matters and progression of the story can be tough to take at parts but they are handled in a very delicate manner as to not overwhelm or understate their importance. The unpredictable narrative goes back and forth between a first-person voice of Thomas, to a third-person mode accounting mostly Megumi's side of the story. This alternation was jarring initially, but it became quite the smart way to juxtapose the inner thoughts of the hermit and the characters' dealings in the external world. Backhaus, with his experience working in Korea, seems to have a respectable understanding of the Japanese and Korean culture and society, and puts it to good use in his forthright portrayals of them. Even though the novel is set in the western world, it invoked an eastern air, and for most of the novel, I kept having to remind myself that the story wasn't set in Asia but in North America. This made it reminiscent to Haruki Murakami's novels, where they are mostly set in Japan but have a western tone to them. I'm a fan of Murakami, so I took a liking to Backhaus' style as well, and with a topic being something I've never heard or read of till now, "Hikikomori and the Rental Sister" is refreshingly intriguing and is a remarkable debut from Jeff Backhaus.
Date published: 2013-01-12

– More About This Product –

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

by Jeff Backhaus
Narrated by Stephen Bowlby

Format: Audio Book (CD)

Dimensions: 390 pages, 5.88 × 5.06 × 0.63 in

Published: January 8, 2013

Publisher: Highbridge Company

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1611749182

ISBN - 13: 9781611749182

From the Publisher

Thomas Tessler, devastated by a tragedy, has cloistered himself in his bedroom and shut out the world for the past three years. His wife, Silke, lives in the next room, but Thomas no longer shares his life with her, leaving his hideout only in the wee hours of the night to buy food at the store around the corner from their Manhattan apartment. Isolated, withdrawn, damaged, Thomas is hikikomori.
 
 Desperate to salvage their life together, Silke hires Megumi, a young Japanese woman attuned to the hikikomori phenomenon, to lure Thomas back into the world. In Japan Megumi is called a "rental sister," though her job may involve much more than familial comforts. As Thomas grows to trust Megumi, a deepening and sensual relationship unfolds. But what are the risks of such intimacy? And what must these three broken people surrender in order to find hope?
 
 Revelatory and provocative, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister tears through the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the waiting world outside.

About the Author

Jeff Backhaus has been a cook, an art director, and a professional pilot. He lived and worked in Korea and now lives in New York. Author website: www.jeffbackhaus.com.

STEPHEN BOWLBY earned his BA in Speech & Theater at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, a short trip from his native North Jersey. His career quickly moved from commercial radio into television and film production as a writer, editor, and director with voice work ever present. With more than 35 years'' experience he''s expanded into audiobook performance, studying with such industry greats as Pat Fraley, Scott Brick, and Stefan Rudnicki.

Editorial Reviews

"Stephen Bowlby''s use of an unemotional voice for narrator Thomas captures the tone of this quirky, spare story of loneliness, grief, and love. . . . With this debut, Backhaus proves he is an author to watch. Recommended."
      -Library Journal