Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan


Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko's sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister's affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family ...

Details Rainbirds

Release DateMar 6th, 2018
PublisherSoho Press
GenreFiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Cultural, Japan, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

Reviews Rainbirds

  • Elisa Lodato
    I was fortunate enough to receive an Advance Review Copy of this novel which comes out next year.Fans of Murakami will not be disappointed by this lyrical, spell-binding evocation of a narrator who finds himself alone and grieving in a sleepy Japanese town.I lost myself in Goenawan’s prose, in the effortless detail of everyday life and in the brooding mood that hung over every action.
  • Kathleen Flynn
    Written in a spare, minimalist style with hints of magical realism that feels very Japanese, Rainbirds tells the story of a man in his 20s whose older sister is murdered. He leaves Tokyo for the small town where she had been living in an effort to understand the sister he realizes he didn't know as well as he thought he did -- or should have. Haunted by regrets and curiosity, he finds himself stepping into her shoes in certain ways: taking over t...
  • Caroline Ambrose
    RAINBIRDS is a compelling and thoughtful story set in Japan in 1994. It's the story of Ren Ishida whose sister, Keiko, has just been murdered in her prime. Ren moves to the small town where Keiko lived and worked and takes a job at the school where Keiko taught. There he meets a beautiful but troubled student called Rio and discovers painful secrets about the past. The prose is clean and evocative with a light magic realism touch and hits the swe...
  • Julia Buckley
    This book was a pleasant surprise--spare and lyrical prose in what seemed part Japanese novel, part mystery, part poetry. While the plot didn't always go in the direction I imagined it would and a few scenes seemed inauthentic to the overall story, there were unforgettable details in the tale of Ren Ishida and his visit to the town where his sister was murdered. Goenawan's imagery was particularly evocative when she wrote about her main character...
  • Carol Potenza
    I received an advance uncopyedited edition of Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan from a Goodreads giveaway. It might not have been a book I picked up, but the cover drew me, as did the blurbs. This book, the writing, the story, were highly praised and I was curious. And I am so glad I read it. Clarissa Goenawan has written luminously beautiful story that I won't soon forget. Her writing is sparse, evocative and flawless. Told in the present with seam...
  • Kate Olson
    A quietly wonderful literary family mystery set in a small town in Japan, this is a debut that I am SO happy I had the chance to read early. This is NOT a thriller or a fast-paced suspense story. It IS an incredibly thoughtful and spare story with hints of magical realism. Thanks to the publisher for the digital advance copy!
  • Julie Clark
    Rainbirds is a story about grief, and the lengths we will go through to resolve it. Goenawan writes with precise beauty, as we follow a brother intent on saying goodbye to a beloved sister who died too soon. Equal parts sinister and heartbreaking, Rainbirds will stay with you long after you read the final page. This is a must read for 2018!
  • Mary Keliikoa
    I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy of Rainbirds. This haunting story is of a brother, Ren Ishida, who comes to a small Japan town where his sister was murdered to settle her affairs. By stepping into the life she left behind, he hopes to learn why his sister left him and his parents behind in Tokyo, and why she was murdered.I was immediately drawn into the characters and the prose in this story. It's a quiet mystery, with the c...
  • Natalie
    I was fortunate enough to receive an advance manuscript of this book, which is to be published next year. This story was very interesting - it's about a young man named Ren Ishida, who's sister has been murdered. He travels to Akakawa, where she lived at the time of her murder, to try to learn more about her and what happened. Although in the beginning, I anticipated this to be a murder mystery, that turned out to be a minor element of the plot. ...
  • Abduraafi Andrian
    Percakapan-percakapan yang diciptakan di dalamnya begitu luruh, membuatku ikut hanyut bersama para tokoh. Aku bahkan ingin memulai semuanya kembali sesaat setelah mengakhiri buku ini. Riuh dalam kesederhanaan.Aku berjanji akan membacanya lagi suatu hari nanti. Bertemu Ren yang mencari fakta atas kematian kakaknya, Keiko. Semoga.Terjemahannya juara!!!
  • E. Mellyberry
    RAINBIRDS is slightly different from my usual cup of tea. I love that I got the chance to read something outside my comfort zone. Plus, it's set in Japan. The book opens with a murder. Let me tell you, I've been guessing left and right the entire time and still got it wrong. That should say something about the author's brilliant mind. The ending leaves me thirsty for more, definitely thirsty for (more) vengeance. Though the story tends to lean to...
  • Y.Z.
    A journey simmering with melancholy through the alternating haziness and clarity brought on by grief. Three lost daughters and the person who finds them, willingly or not.
  • Luke Hupton
    Rainbirds is a mystery that builds slowly, winding its way around you as you get further and further to the edge of your seat. I don't normally read literary thrillers, but this was fantastic. I loved the sense of place Clarissa created in rural Japan, as well as the diverse cast of characters that popped up throughout this story as Ren attempted to solve his sister's murder.I would highly recommend to any crime lovers out there who like a bit mo...
  • Suanne
    Clarissa Goenawan’s Rainbirds begins with Ren Ishida going to scatter his murdered sister’s ashes. The remainder of the story unfolds in a series of dreams mixed with real-time set in a small town, Akakawa. One rainy night, the sister, Keiko, was murdered on her way home from work. The police are unable to uncover any leads. The brother and sister were close, so as Ren winds up his sister’s affairs, he determines to find out who murdered he...
  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    3.5 rounding up for GoodreadsWhile the center of this story surrounds that death of Keiko, the main story is all about Ren and his way of coping with her death, the secrets that come to the surface and learning about himself. Set in a small town in Japan, what the author brings to the table is more of a contemporary, atmospheric read that submerses you into a culture you may not have understood before. And by culture, I not only speak of Japan wi...
  • Sumaiyya
    Really liked this, review to come!
  • Marjorie
    Ren Ishida is stunned when he learns of his sister Keiko’s murder. He leaves Tokyo and his studies to travel to Akakawa to wrap up his sister’s affairs. Events lead to his taking over his sister’s job as a teacher and moving into her room in a rich politician’s home, taking over Keiko’s arrangement of reading to his housebound wife. As he delves into his sister’s life in Akakawa, he learns that she hid many things from him. This book ...
  • Rachel Tan
    With a beautiful cover encasing an equally beautiful story, Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan is a stellar read.I thought I would take a long time to read it but finished it within a day because the story just drew me in. It’s an interesting book, and I because I love all things Japanese, having it set in some small town with Japanese characters drew me in.The novel centers around Ren Ishida, a young man whose sister died in mysterious circumstanc...
  • The Nerd Daily
    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Lindsey WilliamsI was not very far into Rainbirds, the debut novel by Clarissa Goenawan, when I realized that this book was something special. The story follows Ren Ishida, a graduate student from Tokyo who is nearing his degree, when he gets the news that his older sister, Keiko, has been murdered.Ren travels alone to Akakawa, the small town in which his sister had lived in for the past several ...
  • Jennie Shaw
    What a profound read. Filled with the subtle layers of grief, RAINBIRDS hypnotized me. A touch of mystery regarding Keiko's death gave the plot an ending point, but for me, this story is about Ren. His quiet strength and deep love for his sister created made him easy to connect to, and I fell into the sparse, elegant prose. Overall, I took my time with this one and I'm happy I did as RAINBIRDS isn't a book to be rushed.Big thanks to Clarissa Goen...
  • Nawfal
    If you are a fan of Japanese novels, you will enjoy this wonderful book . The writing is amazing in its simplicity and the characters are compelling.
  • Resh (The Book Satchel)
    Loved the read. Review will be up soon. Fans of Murakami will adore the book.
  • Megan
    4.5 stars
  • Christine Badenhop
    Have you ever read a book in which the end takes your breath away? That was Rainbirds for me. I read this on my phone since I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley, and there happened to be a few extra blank pages at the end. This made me think there was a whole other chapter left, so when it ended I was left with the fabulous feeling of wanting more.The novel traces the story of a young man who has just completed graduate school w...
  • Elena Mikalsen
    Clarissa Goenawan’s Rainbirds is a literary fiction which will draw you in right away. It's a story of sister's grief set in Japan. There is a mystery, magical realism, dreams, interesting characters, a ghost story. It will keep you wondering what's going on, while appreciating the poetry of the author's prose. The writing is truly magical.
  • Dayle (the literary llama)
    RAINBIRDS is listed as a mystery novel. The synopsis clearly outlines a mystery. The beginning pages all point to some great mystery to be solved… so I was a bit confused when there was no eagerness or earnestness in our main character to solve said murder. Sure he arrives in town to take care of his late sister’s affairs, and he speaks with the lead detective to get the details on the case, but then rather quickly it seems as if the murder i...
  • Diane
    You're going to want to read Rainbirds. Here are some reasons why: First, it takes place in Japan, so you'll get an idea of what it's like to live there. Second, it's a murder mystery that is different from any murder mystery you've probably ever met. Third, it's beautifully written. What more could you want? Ren's sister has been murdered, and he goes to the small town where she lived to claim her ashes. He hasn't seen her in years. The police h...
  • Jill
    I’m a big fan of Japanese literature – Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa, and Kazuo Ishiguro, for example. So I was primed to read and enjoy Clarissa Goenawan’s debut novel, particularly upon reading that it had a Murakami-style aesthetic.The premise is intriguing: a young man named Ren Ishida, who worshipped and emulated his inscrutable older sister Keiko, is crushed when he finds out that she was the victim of a particularly brutal stabbing att...
  • Steph
    This book was…interesting. Not what I expected. What I expected was something a bit more mysterious and thrilling, but what I got was more of a story of one man’s many exploits with women who don’t seem to extensively interest him, whilst wondering at the death of his sister and uncovering several secrets he seems to stumble upon a bit too easily.BUT before I go too hard on this book, and even though I rated it two and a half stars, I was a...