Harmless Like You (Paperback)

A Novel

By Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393355741, 320pp.

Publication Date: July 17, 2018

Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (2/28/2017)
Hardcover (2/28/2017)

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


“Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut is a beautifully textured novel, befitting the story of an artist.” —Washington Post

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin. At its heart is Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and her struggle with her decision to leave her two-year-old son, Jay. As an adult, Jay sets out to find his mother and confront her abandonment.

About the Author

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a British-Japanese-Chinese-American novelist. She received a BA from Columbia University and currently resides in the UK. Harmless Like You won an Authors' Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award. It was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a 2017 NPR Great Read.

Praise For Harmless Like You: A Novel

Buchanan’s prose is lyrical and evocative.… After all, Buchanan reminds us, the ethereal dreams of the 1960s shaped the all-too-solid contours of the world we inhabit today.

Buchanan writes with beauty and sensitivity about what it means to be an artist, a parent, and an outsider in a foreign culture.

[T]here are so many mature notions of patience, sacrifice, and terrible sadness that it’s startling to realize how young the author of the book is.

In Harmless Like You… characters look for ways to reconcile themselves with their histories, though in vastly different and sometimes opposing ways.

Harmless Like You is a beautifully written, many-layered novel that, at its core, tells the personal story of a mother and a son—a struggling artist and the child she left behind in pursuit of that art.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is only 26 and [Harmless Like You] is a stunning debut that would make a writer four times her years proud.

This elegant and moving novel burns slowly, building in intensity as it develops to explore the subjects of identity, alienation and desire.

[Buchanan] find[s] ways of depicting difference, painting characters from numerous races and cultures.… Her ways of infusing a character’s culture have more to do with habits and perspective than with pigeonholes, making this the rare debut that does not smack of received knowledge.

A relentlessly honest book, capturing some of the ugliest and under-represented facets of life, in rich, elegant prose.

Harmless Like You is a refreshing, bold book about understatement.