Hikikomori and the Rental Sister
Publication Date: January 2013
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the January 2013 Indie Next List
“Thomas Tessler is 'hikikomari,' secluded, isolated, and depressed, a father so filled with guilt and shame he feels his only option is to lock himself in his bedroom and avoid all human contact. Thomas's wife, Silke, forced to communicate with her husband through a locked door, is desperate to save her marriage. She enlists the services of Megumi, a Japanese 'rental sister.' Her job is to break through Thomas's wall of isolation. Backhaus does a wonderful job of exploring how these three defeated people reach out to one another and begin the work of healing.”
-- Beverly Bartczak, The Fine Print, Lakeside, OH
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 Isolated, withdrawn, damaged, Thomas is "hikikomori."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.