Watersong

Clarissa Goenawan. Scribe, $17 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-950354-97-9

Singaporean writer Goenawan’s chilling latest (after The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida) delivers one startling revelation after another. As a child in Fukuoka, Japan, Shouji Arai had a recurring nightmare of drowning, and a fortune teller prophesized that someone close to him might drown. Goenawan shows how the warning shaped Shouji’s adult life through links between him and three strong female characters: Youko, Mizuki, and Liyun. Youko helps him get a job in an exclusive tearoom in Akakawa as an “ear prostitute,” someone who listens to clients reveal “extremely delicate matters.” Two hard and fast rules of the club are “No judgement and complete secrecy.” Shouji breaks both with his first client, Mizuki, when it appears she is a victim of domestic abuse by her politician husband. With his life in danger, Shouji flees to Tokyo, where he thinks he might locate Youko, who has also disappeared from Akakawa. When he encounters his former college classmate Liyun at a reunion, he naively suggests she live with him until she finds a job. After his suspicions grow about the truth behind what each of the three women have told him, he uncovers devastating, life-altering secrets. Goenawan sustains a fast pace all the way to a shocking and satisfying conclusion. This author continues to impress. (July)
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR
THE BEST NEW BOOKS
PW EDITORS’ PICKS FOR THE BEST NEW BOOKS