If You Follow Me

( 13 )

Overview

Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father's suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters—from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high ...

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If You Follow Me

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Overview

Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father's suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters—from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion—it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Curtis Sittenfeld
“I love, love, love IF YOU FOLLOW ME. It’s fearlessly honest, occasionally heartbreaking, and extremely funny, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
Michelle Richmond
“Graceful, smart, and filled with wonder, If You Follow Me is a heartfelt delight from beginning to end.”
Katharine Noel
“In this beautiful novel, what is most “foreign” to Marina turns out to be her complex relationships with those she thought she knew best. Malena Watrous’s writing is sharp-edged and generous, tragic and true. I would follow her anywhere.”
Thisbe Nissen
If You Follow Me is the kind of book you finish and then clutch to your heart as you run around telling everyone you know that they have to read it. Watrous has written a book of great genuine warmth, startling honesty, and remarkable power.”
Ms. Magazine
"This tragicomic debut novel spunky, feminist and perpetually wrong-footed college grad as she spends four seasons in rural Japan escaping the memory of her father’s suicide."
San Francisco Magazine
"[C]onfident and heartfelt, a finely sketched reminder of the ways in which new loves are like new countries....If You Follow Me will charm all readers who have ever fumbled, offended, raged, and had their hearts broken in a foreign land."
New York Times Book Review
“A smart, comic first novel.”
Eugene Register-Guard
“Her writing is direct and conversational. And she is able to deliver an excruciating portrayal of Marina’s internal struggles.”
Boston Globe
“[A] deft, funny, and emotionally acute first novel...Watrous’s book crackles with atmospheric detail and sharp dialogue, and tells a vivid story of an American confronting grief and self-knowledge in an unfamiliar place.”
Ms. magazine
“This tragicomic debut novel spunky, feminist and perpetually wrong-footed college grad as she spends four seasons in rural Japan escaping the memory of her father’s suicide.”
San Francisco magazine
“[C]onfident and heartfelt, a finely sketched reminder of the ways in which new loves are like new countries....If You Follow Me will charm all readers who have ever fumbled, offended, raged, and had their hearts broken in a foreign land.”
Lori Soderlind
Japan seems to be a particularly difficult place to sort yourself out if you are a sensitive, rules-averse American woman with a flexible sexuality and a penchant for getting into trouble, like the narrator of Malena Watrous's smart, comic first novel, If You Follow Me. But fortunately for the rest of us, calamity borne with a good sense of humor often turns into a great story.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In Watrous's proficient debut, 22-year-old Marina and her girlfriend Carolyn are new residents in a quirky Japanese town where they teach English while learning their own lessons about gomi, or garbage disposal. Aside from the local obsession with trash, living in smalltown Shika is a welcome respite for Marina, who grapples with her father's suicide (he was indirectly responsible for her introduction to Carolyn; they met in a bereavement group), and although she hopes to move past his death during her year in Japan, he begins to feel more alive to her, as if his presence made the trip as well. Meanwhile, the peculiar absurdities of being a stranger in a strange land abound (how does one properly dispose of a refrigerator?), and though this tale of culture shock, growing up, and throwing out isn't especially distinguished from its fish-out-of-water peers, it does the trick as a diversion. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061732850
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 771,367
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Malena Watrous's short fiction has appeared in Story Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Triquarterly, The Massachusetts Review, and Kyoto Journal. The winner of the Michener-Copernicus Award, she lives in San Francisco.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A catching book that you will enjoy entirely!

    Cultural gaps, family tragedies, friendship and love are all brought together by Malena Watrous in a clear and entertaining way that won't let you put the book down.
    For those who have lived in Japan, you will relate to the cultural hurdles that you may have experienced, and will enjoy accompanying Marina along her path of personal growth and grief.
    You will have fun at Marina's and her girlfriend's daily struggles with trash disposal,nothing less than a symbol of the huge differences between western and eastern culture.
    The description and personality of the characters, as well as of the locations are so credible that it's impossible not to get involved with the story right from the beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2010

    Discovering Oneself!

    I have enormously enjoyed reading Malena Watrous's book reviews online and in the NY Times Book Review and SF Chronicle - mainly because she has such an acid wit. But, nothing prepared me for IF YOU FOLLOW ME. I was hooked from the first page and stayed up most of the night reading the book, then took a long lunch hour the next day to finish it. I couldn't sleep, couldn't work, couldn't think until I rejoined Marina in her small Japanese community to follow her adventures navigating the Japanese culture and her own grief. 5 stars is too few!

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 14 Customer Reviews

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