The Japanese word gaijin means “unwelcome foreigner.” It’s not profanity, but is sometimes a slur directed at non-Japanese people in Japan. My novel is called Gaijin…
Lucy is a budding journalist at Northwestern University and she’s obsessed with an exotic new student, Owen Ota, who becomes her lover and her sensei. When he disappears without explanation, she’s devastated and sets out to find him. On her three-month quest across Japan she finds only snippets of the elegant culture Owen had described. Instead she faces anti-U.S. protests, menacing street thugs and sexist treatment, and she winds up at the base of Mt. Fuji, in the terrifying Suicide Forest. Will she ever find Owen? Will she be driven back to the U.S.? Gaijin is a coming-of-age story about a woman who solves a heartbreaking mystery that alters the trajectory of her life.
Lucy meets a Japanese student, Owen Ota while studying journalism. Their relationship grows until one day, Owen just disappears.
So, Lucy is determined to find him and travels to Japan. She finds a job in Okinawa and begins her search.
It’s here she finds the real Japan and its culture but she is a gaijin, a foreigner.
Gaijin is a beautifully written tale of cultural and racial differences, but it’s also about acceptance and history (sometimes brutal) it also tells of violence and protests against the US too. In Japan, Lucy grows, she finds who she really is. It’s full of emotion and stunning descriptions of Japan itself. A thoughtful and thought provoking read.
Thank you to Anna at FSB Associates for an eARC of Gaijin. This is my honest and unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Z. Sleeper is an ex-journalist with an MFA in creative writing. Gaijin is her first novel. Her short story, “A Few Innocuous Lines,” won an award from Writer’s Digest. Her non-fiction essay, “On Getting Vivian,” was published in The Shanghai Literary Review. Her poetry was published in A Year in Ink, San Diego Poetry Annual and Painters & Poets, and exhibited at the Bellarmine Museum. In the recent past she was an editor at New Rivers Press, and editor-in-chief of the literary journal Mason’s Road. She completed her MFA at Fairfield University in 2012. Prior to that she had a twenty-five-year career as a business writer and technology reporter and won three journalism awards and a fellowship at the National Press Foundation