Hikikomori and the Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus
A Novel

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She is tough and intelligent, and what transpires next is not only erotic and deeply romantic but liberating for all three major players (...) This is one remarkable debut.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

Thomas Tessler has cloistered himself in his bedroom and shut out the world for the past three years. His wife, Silke, lives right in the next room, but Thomas no longer shares his life with her, leaving his hideout only occasionally, in the wee hours of the night, to pick up food at the grocery store around the corner from their Manhattan apartment. Unable to cope with a devastating loss, Thomas has become isolated and withdrawn. He is hikikomori.

Desperate for one last chance to salvage their life together, Silke hires Megumi, a young  Japanese immigrant attuned to the hikikomori phenomenon, to lure Thomas back into the world. Fleeing from her own shattering experience, Megumi has buried her pain in a fast life spent in nightclubs with nameless men. Now she will try to help Thomas and Silke as a “rental sister,” as they are known in Japan. At first Thomas remains steadfast and sequestered, but as he grows to trust Megumi, a deepening and sensual relationship unfolds.

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister is a taut novel that packs a big philosophical punch. In this revelatory and provocative debut, Jeff Backhaus asks, What are the risks of intimacy? Can another woman ever lead a husband back to his wife? And what must we surrender for love? Hikikomori and the Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting ?outside.

 

About Jeff Backhaus

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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.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Algonquin Books. 273 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Hikikomori and the Rental Sister
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Jan 29 2013

Mr. Backhaus is so intent on this main story that he leaves the secondary plot entirely fallow.

Read Full Review of Hikikomori and the Rental Sis... | See more reviews from NY Times

Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Nancy Wigston on Jan 13 2013

She is tough and intelligent, and what transpires next is not only erotic and deeply romantic but liberating for all three major players (...) This is one remarkable debut.

Read Full Review of Hikikomori and the Rental Sis... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for Hikikomori and the Rental Sister
70%

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