Saturday, June 15, 2013
Hikikomori is the Japanese word for withdrawal as well as the name of a social phenomenon that’s a growing problem in that country, affecting an estimated one million people. Hikikomori sufferers sequester themselves in a single room and have minimal interactions with anyone, sometimes for years on end . A rental sister is a professional at coaxing the hikikomori back into the world.
In Jeff Backhaus’ new novel Hikikomori and the Rental Sister a Japanese-American woman employs a rental sister to coax her husband out of a three-year-long isolation. By sliding notes and origami under the door and opening up with confessions of her own, the rental sister persuades the recluse to open up and the two of them bond in a way that leaves both of them wanting more. The intriguing characters in this unique love triangle offer a fascinating look into a very private disorder.