Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

By Jeff Backhaus
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Hardcover, 9781616201371, 246pp.)

Publication Date: January 2013

List Price: $23.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.
Shop Local
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.


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


hikikomori, n. h?kik?'mo?ri; "literally pulling inward; refers to those who withdraw from society."

Inspired by the real-life Japanese social phenomenon called "hikikomori" and the professional rental sisters hired to help, "Hikikomori and the Rental Sister" is about an erotic relationship between Thomas, an American "hikikomori, " and Megumi, a young Japanese immigrant hiding from her own past. The strange, insular world they create together in a New York City bedroom and with the tacit acknowledgment of Thomas's wife reveals three human hearts in crisis, but leaves us with a profound faith in the human capacity to find beauty and meaning in life, even after great sorrow. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, "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.

Named an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, one of Book Riot's 5 to Watch, and an iBookstore Editor's Choice in hardcover.

About the Author
JEFF BACKHAUS has been a cook, an art director and a professional pilot. He has lived and worked in Korea and now lives in New York. This is his first novel. Visit him online at www.jeffbackhaus.com or follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Backhaus.
Indie Bookstore Finder
EBbooks and EReaders
Find great gifts: Signed books
Link to IndieBound

Update Profile