Chana's Reviews > American Fuji

American Fuji by Sara Backer
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's review
Nov 20, 12

bookshelves: japan, received-through-bookcrossing, funny, better-romance
Read on October 09, 2011

I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. The author spent 3 years as the first woman, first American visiting professor of English at Shizuoka University in Japan. So she has a very solid basis for writing a book about an American woman English professor living in Japan. She is quite snarky about Japan, which I found amusing, but the reader can also tell that she has a love for Japan as well.
This book isn't autobiographical, it is fiction. It involves this American woman in Japan who has been inexplicably fired from her professor position at Shizuoka University and is now working for a funeral company, a company that sells elaborate showy funerals to rich people. Her boss and the people that she works with are an oddball group of Japanese and this adds texture and more amusement to the book. So that is where we start. Then an American author who has never been to Japan before comes to promote his book, and to find out the details of what happened to his son, an exchange student to Japan who died in an unexplained accident. So you have a bit of a mystery, a good comic basis, a budding romance, an illness, a grieving father, a villain, and a country to love and hate. It works well for most of the book; as a reader I could see that I was being led around by the author into situations manufactured to make the book work, but that didn't take away from the pleasure of the book. I stopped liking the book as much toward the end and it is hard to tell you why exactly except that some of it got sillier than I had tolerance for, some of the rant against the American medical system started to bother me, and the promising romance sort of sputtered, at least to my way of thinking.
Overall it is worthwhile reading, especially for all the details about living in Japan.
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