4.2 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
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A mesmerizing novel by the author of Rainbirds and The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida about a young man trying to escape his past in Japan.

When Shouji Arai crosses one of his company's most powerful clients, he must leave Akakawa immediately or risk his life. But his girlfriend Youko is nowhere to be found.

Haunted by dreams of drowning and the words of a fortune teller who warned him away from three women with water in their names, he travels to Tokyo, where he tries in vain to track Youko down. But Shouji soon realises that not everything Youko told him about herself was true. Who is the real woman he once lived with and loved, and where could she be hiding?

Watersong is a spellbinding novel of loves lost and recovered, of secrets never spoken, and of how our pasts shape our futures.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 134 x 208 x 26mm | 295g
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  • English
  • 1950354970
  • 9781950354979
  • 2,252,625

Review quote

"Goenawan's chilling latest delivers one startling revelation after another ... Goenawan sustains a fast pace all the way to a shocking and satisfying conclusion. This author continues to impress."
--Publishers Weekly

"Watersong transports the reader to worlds both familiar and unknown. Clarissa Goenawan's crisp narration and vivid characters made this novel feel like a lingering dream. This is an intriguing and soul-stirring story about how we reconcile with our pasts."
--Balli Kaur Jaswal, author of The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

"Haunting, dreamy, and deeply atmospheric, Watersong is a jewel box of a novel, spilling forth with stories within stories, each a perfect, gleaming tribute to lost love, past secrets, and the enduring quest for human connection amidst it all."
--Kirstin Chen, author of Soy Sauce for Beginners

"An atmospheric mystery, elegantly told."
--Winnie M. Li, author of Dark Chapter

Praise for The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida:

"A novel in three voices about the inner turmoil--and beauty--that people keep walled behind flawless surfaces."
--Tiffany Tsao, author of The Oddfits and The Majesties

"An exquisite tale about the way secrets shape and transform young lives. Behind Goenawan's crisp, spare prose lies a world of emotional complexity."
--Mira T. Lee, award-winning author of Everything Here Is Beautiful

"Vivid and intriguing--an elegantly cryptic, poetically plotted Murakami-esque whydunit."
--Sharlene Teo, award-winning author of Ponti

"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 I'll be thinking about them for some time."
--Kathleen Barber, author of Truth Be Told and Follow Me

"As three stories interlink, rich plot, description, and dialogue make this fiction seem like reality. While readers may be aware they're not a part of the novel, through Goenawan's enthralling writing, they will nonetheless become immersed in her fictional world."
--Budi Darma

"A compelling protagonist...Like Japanese brush painting, the author's simple, clear prose captures Miwako's vulnerability and complexity. Also vividly drawn are Fumi and Chie, each having built their own unusual protective personas that are gradually revealed. An eerie and elegant puzzle."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Tender and tragic...Goenawan's luminous prose captures the deep emotions of her characters as they grapple with questions about family history, gender, and sexuality. The tug of Miwako's strange, troubled spirit will wrench readers from the beginning."
--Publishers Weekly

'[A] complex, interpersonal mystery ... [A] tremendous examination of sadness ... [A] book with heart about the mysteries of the heart.'
-Benjamin Welton, New York Journal of Books

'An offbeat, tender exploration of the secrets we keep from others ... Goenawan is clearly a talented and creative storyteller ... She excels at suspense, keeping the reader guessing with left-field plot developments and forays into magic realism that somehow seem in keeping with realities on the ground.'
-The Irish Times

Praise for


"A murder mystery and a family drama in one, this book is as beautiful as it is understated. The author presents us with a fascinatingly structured look into Japanese society and a depiction of mourning and grief that is universally recognizable."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"A​ transnational literary tour-de-force. Readers will be carried along by its creepy charm."
--The Japan Times​

"Clarissa Goenawan spins a dark, encapsulating story that will certainly reel you in completely."

"Mysterious and dark."
--Daily Beast
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Rating details

15 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 33% (5)
4 60% (9)
3 0% (0)
2 7% (1)
1 0% (0)
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