A mother, Japan, a mother-in-law, a demanding husband, a painter. All intriguing concepts in Losing Kei by Suzanne Kamata.
A young mother fights impossible odds to be reunited with her child in this acutely insightful first novel about an inter-cultural marriage gone terribly wrong.
Jill Parker is an American painter living in Japan. Far from the trendy gaijin neighborhoods of downtown Tokyo, she’s settled in a remote seaside village where she makes ends meet as a bar hostess. Her luck changes when she meets Yusuke, a savvy and sensitive art gallery owner who believes in her talent. But their love affair, and subsequent marriage, is doomed to domestic hell, for Yusuke is the chonan, the eldest son, who assumes the role of rigid patriarch in his traditional family while Jill’s duty is that of servile Japanese wife. A daily battle of wills ensues as Jill resists instruction from Yusuke's mother in the proper womanly arts and even the long anticipated birth of a son, Kei, fails to unite them. Divorce is the only way out but in Japan a foreigner has no rights to custody and Jill must choose between freedom and abandoning her child.
Told with tenderness, humor, and an insider’s knowledge of Japanese family life Losing Kei is the debut novel of an exceptional expatriate voice. -- Leapfrog Press
Read Julie P.'s review at Booking Mama.
Published: January, 2008
Author's first novel
Author's website: Suzannekamata.com