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The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  33 reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of Rainbirds comes a novel of tragedy and dark histories set in Japan.

University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

To Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda; Chie,
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Soho Press
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Miwako Sumida is a sophomore in college when she commits suicide. Months before that she is in hiding in a remote village. Why was she in hiding?

Her friends are left behind to put together the pieces, and they travel to village where she hid.

Goenawan has penned a beautifully intricate character study. Miwakos life is laid bare: her innermost secrets and her most relatable thoughts and feelings. The Tokyo setting was so much fun for me because Im not sure Ive read a book set there in modern
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Sarah-Hope
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Clarissa Goenawan deserves to have a much bigger following than she currently has. In Both her first novel, Rainbirds, and her second, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, she shows a talent for painting complex portraits of characters who carry a burden of uncertaintyabout identity, about their own life stories, about the stories of those they love. This results in a sort of tentativeness in her writing, but it's a tentativeness that engages and opens possibilities, not one that creates distance ...more
Kate
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
4.5/5stars

This was absolutely wonderful and everything I expected from Clarissas second book. Rainbirds made my fave books of the year it was released, and Miwako Sumida will probably make this years!

Goenawan is basically Murakami if Murakami knew how to write women and lgbt characters. Her books really are like getting a new Murakami book - if Rainbirds was her WUBC, this book is her Norwegian Wood.
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Kathleen
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the first page of Clarissa Goenawans THE PERFECT WORLD OF MIWAKO SUMIDA, we know that the titular Miwako has taken her own life, but we dont know why. This same question plagues Miwakos close friends as they grieve her death and search for answers. In this elegant and haunting novel, Goenawan deftly explores the messiness of grief, the pain of lost chances, and the way a life can collapse under the weight of secrets. Miwako and her friends are under my skin, and Ill be thinking about them ...more
Rhonda Lomazow
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clarissa Goenawan is an author to follow.This is her second novel her first was Rainbird that was so unique so well written and this her second is another gem.
From the first pages I was drawn in by the scene the characters Miwako her suicide her secrets the friends left guessing.
Highly recommend this book this author literary fiction at its best.
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
Wow. Where do I even begin?! I read Clarissa's prior book, Rainbirds, two years ago and knew she was a talented writer then, but this book... THIS BOOK. I just finished it and I'm floored. What a truly beautiful, if somber, story. I had literal chills at one part towards the end. ALL THE FEELS.

This book centers around Miwako Sumida, who we learn from the prologue, has hanged herself. What comes are three parts, through the eyes of those who knew her best as we reflect to their experiences with
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Deirdre Rosenberg
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This novel is perfect in its simplicity and smooth writing style. I read it in under 24hrs and savored every moment. It was beautifully composed and a real pleasure to read. If you liked Goenawans first book, you will for sure love this one. The story is very powerful and touching. The characters are unique, but quite relatable. The author is very talented when it comes to setting a mood and vibe. When you read her words, you are transported. ...more
E. Mellyberry
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: got-a-copy
What a wonderful story. Clarissa did it again. Both her books are amazing, but I have to say, I love her second book more.
The writing is quiet, but beautiful and deep. I adore every character, but I am drawn towards Miwako and Fumi-nee, deeper and deeper into their secrets and unexpected past. One layer peeled, and there was another, and another... I cannot put it down.
Coleen (The Book Ramblings)
Clarissa Goenawans second novel, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida expands upon the world of Rainbirds, her debut novel. There is simplicity yet depth and elegance when it comes to her prose that is refreshing and something that I appreciate about her writing style. So it was no surprise when I read the entirety of this novel within 5 hours while sick in bed. I would like to thank Clarissa Goenawan and Soho Press for sending me an advanced copy.

It follows three friends of Miwako, a Tokyo
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OutlawPoet
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
First things first: the author's writing is simply beautiful. It's quiet, descriptive and heartfelt.

From the start, you know that this is the story of a girl who commits suicide. You don't know why, but as you read about her, from the points of view of the people who loved her, you learn about her...and about so much more.

Each character in the book has secrets - some heartbreaking, some mysterious, all fascinating. And we learn that keeping all those secrets deep inside can eventually eat away
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The Artisan Geek
Mar 24, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: bookcase


Thank you Soho Press for a copy of this book!

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miss.mesmerized mesmerized
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
When his friends ask him out for a date to have equal numbers of boys and girls, Ryusei is not too keen. But then he meets Miwako and immediately falls for the peculiar girl who is not stunningly attractive and even overtly harsh. They soon find out that they actually have a lot in common, they spend more and more time together and Miwako befriends Ryuseis older sister Fumi-nee. Even though they become inseparable, they are not a couple, there is something holding Miwako back from really getting ...more
John
Really enjoyed this novel, I read it in two days. Reminded me of Murakamis Norwegian Wood and the works of Banana Yoshimoto.

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read an advanced copy of this book.
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Shunichi Sekimoto
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the long-awaited second work of Clarissagoenawan.
In the first novel, Rainbirds,
I was very fortunate to read a story about the characters' brotherly love, their love affairs, their personalities, and a episode with fictional character that appears abruptly.
They appeared one after another, and it was a work, that brings us to solve the riddles,as if we are explorering in a dark endless cave.
I think Clarissa's mystery novel is filled with some episodes of individual love,beautiful
...more
Shunichi Sekimoto
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the long-awaited second work of Clarissagoenawan.
In the first novel, Rainbirds,
I was very fortunate to read a story about the characters' brotherly love, their love affairs, their personalities, and a episode with fictional character that appears abruptry.
They appeared one after another, and it was a work, that blings us to solving the riddles,as if we are exprorering in a dark endless cave.
I think Clarissa's mystery novel is filled with some episodes of individual love,beautiful
...more
Rachel
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have had The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida on my TBR as one of my most anticipated 2020 releases ever since the book was announced last year and I was so excited to be able to (finally!) read it. I want so badly to be able to say that I love it as much as I did Rainbirds (or maybe even more than that) and it makes me really sad that I cant.

Its funny, because I went into The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida thinking that its precisely the kind of a book that I love to read. I love the
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Kailee
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Is Clarissa Goenawan on your radar? If not, she should be. I loved her debut novel Rainbirds so much that when I saw her coming out with her sophomore novel, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, without even reading the synopsis, I knew that I had to request it. This did not fall into the sophomore slump pile, I would even so boldly say that it was even better than Rainbirds - and I loved that book!

Miwako Sumida is dead by suicide, leaving her friends and family with the big question - why.
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Epickkasten
Interesting story, but somehow I find it hard to like it. Most of the characters feel pretty bland, with the exception of Ryusei's sister, Fumi. Perhaps I'm just not the targeted reader for this book.
Reading Mama
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was the first book by Goenawan, but I know it will not be my last (I already have a copy of Rainbirds on my shelf waiting to be read). The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida was a unique and refreshing read- the prose was lyrical, poetic, and profound. The overall tone of this story was definitely somber and there was a certain loneliness that was almost tangible. Clarissa Goenawan writes Miwako's story in a way that leaves the reader no choice but to become emotionally invested in her life and ...more
Rosy Tandean
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this book a few days ago and the story of Miwako Sumida has been following me around. The dialogues of the characters were still fresh in my mind. This was the second book I read from Clarissa Goenawan and to be honest I was really afraid that this book wouldnt meet my expectation. Thank goodness, I was wrong. Her previous book, Rainbirds, was one of my favourites from the recent years. There were some similarities between both books that she wrote about; both deal with ...more
Rhinnan
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Goenawas first novel, Rainbirds, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida is spare but even more beautiful. Do yourself a favor an read it. ...more
Vanessa
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book until about 85% of the way through. The writing was beautiful. The characters simple and elegant and then it became a little strange.
Maia Jin
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I couldnt put the book down and finished it within a day. Reading it feels like piecing a puzzle of Miwako Sumida, narrated in three different perspectives; Ryusei who has fallen in love with her, Chie who was her best friend and Fumi-nee, Ryuseis sister. Its thought-provoking in a way which makes you wonder if the normal is actually normal; what we see is only the surface. We may never know what pain and misery lives in the depths of a perfectly smiling face. Will it matter if one of the ...more
Nelda Brangwin
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Revolving around three main characters, Miwako, an independent private college girl, Ryesei who want to be her boyfriend, and his sister Fumi. Set mainly in Tokyo, the reader knows from the beginning that Miwako is troubled. She doesnt want attachments to people. Ryesei and Fumi grew up in an orphanage. Both Miwako and Fumi have pasts which have shaped their current lives. Fumi is stuck in a body with which she cant identify. Born male, she is a tall, beautiful female artist, who is a hostess at ...more
Amber
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I flew through this book! A quiet story set in Japan with engaging characters and little mysteries throughout that just kept the pages turning.
I wish I could combine present story and backstory as skillfully as Goenawan--she does an excellent job of seamlessly blending the past and the present.
If you loved Goenawan's RAINBIRDS you will definitely love this book, too. I would recommend for fans of Haruki Murakami, as well--it read a bit like NORWEGIAN WOOD, but with a touch of supernatural.
Faith Ryan
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nefeli Louizou
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Very compelling, delicate type of writing in a book that, unfortunately, closed with an ending that seemed rushed and off.
Susie Wang
Mar 08, 2020 marked it as to-read
Can't wait for this! I really liked Rainbirds. I don't even remember why, but I liked it a lot.
Pearline Ho
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
It has been a couple of days since I finished this book, and I find myself thinking back to the fictional town. I loved the slight haze and lull that I got as I pictured the writing, and the prose, so simple and the storyline not gimmicky. Careful use of some magical realism? Told in 3 parts that are the 3 characters different POV.
Nicole
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Some books stay with you long after you turn the last page, and this is one of those books for me.

Set mostly in Tokyo after Miwako Sumida, the titular character in this book, dies by suicide, we follow the stories of the three people closest to her. Each one has a story that brings us closer to understanding Miwakos sudden, tragic, and unexpected death.

Told with complexity and sensitivity, this book takes readers on a journey that
...more
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Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds is her first novel.

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