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Losing Kei

A Novel by Suzanne Kamata

“Very affecting…The American woman in Kamata's very interesting novel runs into a number of problems once she is married into a rural Japanese family. [But] the novel is more interesting when you experience it as the story of an expatriate in the throes of self-creation, trying to decide who she is and making one instructive error after another. It is a text for all of us.”

Donald Richie, The Japan Times

“The post-divorce custody battle gets an international twist in Kamata’s debut novel set in Japan…an intriguing look into one woman’s experience with a culture very different from her own.”


"As Losing Kei builds suspense, Suzanne Kamata deftly explores the contours of one Japanese family's xenephobia, its power to entrap the novel's American heroine, and ultimately to set her free."

—Ellis Avery, author of The Teahouse Fire

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A young mother fights impossible odds to be reunited with her child in this acutely insightful first novel about an inter-cultural marriage gone terribly wrong.

Jill Parker is an American painter living in Japan. Far from the trendy gaijin neighborhoods of downtown Tokyo, she’s settled in a remote seaside village where she makes ends meet as a bar hostess. Her luck changes when she meets Yusuke, a savvy and sensitive art gallery owner who believes in her talent. But their love affair, and subsequent marriage, is doomed to domestic hell, for Yusuke is the chonan, the eldest son, who assumes the role of rigid patriarch in his traditional family while Jill’s duty is that of servile Japanese wife. A daily battle of wills ensues as Jill resists instruction from Yusuke's mother in the proper womanly arts and even the long anticipated birth of a son, Kei, fails to unite them. Divorce is the only way out but in Japan a foreigner has no rights to custody and Jill must choose between freedom and abandoning her child.

Told with tenderness, humor, and an insider’s knowledge of Japanese family life Losing Kei is the debut novel of an exceptional expatriate voice.

"Suzanne Kamata has a gift for the thoughtful investigation of complicated subjects. With sensitivity and surety, she guides her readers on a journey through worlds both painfully familiar and utterly alien, always leading to surprising, sometimes poignant conclusions."

—Andrea Buchanan, Author of Mother Shock


Suzanne Kamata's short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including New York Stories, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Pleiades, Kyoto Journal, The Utne Reader, The Japan Times, Brain, Child, Skirt!, Ladybug, and Cicada.  Her work also appears in the anthologies Yaponesia, The Beacon Best of 1999, It's a Boy, It's a Girl, Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally InclinedNot What I Expected, and a forthcoming anthology on alternative family configurations to be edited by Rebecca Walker and published by Riverhead. She is the editor of the anthology The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan (Stone Bridge Press, 1997) and a forthcoming literary anthology Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising Children with Special Needs to be published by Beacon Press.  Formerly fiction editor of Being A Broad, a magazine for expatriate women in Japan, she now serves as fiction editor for the popular e-zine Literary Mama, and edits and publishes the literary magazine Yomimono.  Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a special mention in 2006.  She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/Wingspan Fiction Contest.  She currently teaches at Naruto Educational University and lives in Japan with her husband and two children.

PAGES: 196
TRIM: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-9728984-9-2
PRICE: $14.95 / Paperback Original
Pub Date: January 2008 


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