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Harmless Like You

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

An exciting new voice in fiction captures the fragile personal histories of an estranged mother and son.



'This brilliant debut novel by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is cause for celebration.' LORRIE MOORE

When the meaning of 'home' is complicated, we strive for a sense of connection.

Yet sometimes being alone feels like the easiest choice to make.

In 1968 Yuki is 16 and has not one friend in all of New York.
It's the year her parents move back to Tokyo, but Yuki decides to stay.
As she sketches out her new life, it is also the year she'll fall in love with a shade of orange, climb out a window, meets an aspiring model, and run tangle-haired through the night.

In 2016 gallery owner Jay becomes a father, believing he is a happily married man.
It's the year he will finally confront his mother, who abandoned their family when he was two years old.
Her name is Yuki Oyama and she has been living for decades as an artist in Berlin.

Written with startling beauty and power, HARMLESS LIKE YOU explores the complexities of identity and art and captures, over decades and cities, a fractured family narrative of love, loneliness and reconciliation.

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Praise for Harmless Like You

  • This brilliant debut novel by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is cause for celebration. - LORRIE MOORE

  • This beautiful novel explores creativity and the complicated relationships between parents and children. - Psychologies

  • Sublime - calm, profound, beautifully controlled and with startling splashes of colour. - CHRIS CLEAVE

  • What a beautiful book. So measured and confident for a debut - really impressive stuff. The fine brushwork of a meticulous student of the human condition, set within the rich, widescreen drama of a bold and visionary storyteller. It's like staring at a stone at the bottom of a very clear, but slowly shifting, lake. An enchanting and deftly layered exploration of desire, self-identity and belonging. - EMMA JANE UNSWORTH

  • Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's elegant, accomplished debut novel delves into complicated familial relationships and examines how yearning for a sense of belonging and a compulsion to make art demand all sorts of uneasy life choices . . . rich and vivid. - Express

  • Impressive debut . . . sensitively explores loneliness and the desire to belong against the need for freedom, both personal and artistic. - Bookseller, Editor's Pick

  • Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's passionate, gorgeously-written debut novel investigates harmlessness and harm, power and vulnerability, free will and fate. - ELLIS AVERY, author of The Family Tooth

  • HARMLESS LIKE YOU is the story of a mother and her son, but it is too an ode to the outsider, a Japanese-American artist who must also create her own, unprecedented identity in 1960s New York. Moving from Manhattan to Berlin, from the Vietnam War to the new millennium, Buchanan's debut explores the thin line between attachment and abandonment, love and pain, selfishness and sacrifice. With kaleidoscopic prose and characters all too human, HARMLESS LIKE YOU is an unforgettable debut, as rich in darkness and light as it is in color. - CHLOE BENJAMIN, author of The Anatomy of Dreams

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Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a Japanese-British-Chinese-American writer. Her debut novel, Harmless Like You was published in 2016 and won the Author's Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask award. It was also shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Books Are My Bag Breakthrough Author Award and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan was the recipient of a Margins fellowship for the Asian American Writers Workshop, has a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is currently working on a PhD at the University of East Anglia. Her writing has appeared in the short story anthology How Much the Heart Can Hold (Sceptre), the Guardian, New York Times, Granta, The Paris Review and The Atlantic among other places. She has lived in London, New York, Tokyo, Madison and Norwich.

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