Praise for Gaijin
This story of the “unwelcome foreigner” is not an easy one, and it takes an award-winning journalist like Sarah Sleeper to give it the precision, sensitivity, and depth it deserves. The Far East and the Midwest are both on trial as Sleeper investigates the past and present of Japanese-American relations through a haunting, unforgettable story of love lost. Sleeper’s prose is full of natural poetry as she explores all the different shades of heartbreak where personal and political intersect.
— Porochista Khakpour, author most recently of Brown Album
Told in lovely prose sprinkled with poetry, Gaijin is a story of love, heartbreak, and self-realization. After traveling halfway around the world in the hope of finding out what happened to her first love, Owen Ota, Lucy must embark on another, more personal quest. A journey of the heart set against the backdrop of a shifting and contradictory landscape.
— Dare DeLano, award-winning author, most recently of Two Cities
Against a backdrop of tea ceremonies, lotus blossoms, haikus, and the gritty reality of the difficult history of American and Japanese relationships, Sarah Sleeper weaves her deftly told story of a young woman’s memorable journey toward a greater understanding of the truths that inhabit our complex world. Written with a journalist’s eye for detail and a commitment to the truth, Gaijin is an expansive, meaningful debut.
— Karen Osborn, author most recently of the novel The Music Book
A nuanced, subtly written tale that reminds one of those Jamesian cultural clashes between ingenuous Americans and sophisticated foreigners, Sleeper’s novel shows us how we are all, at heart, gaijin. A novel particularly relevant in today’s highly charged xenophobic era.
— Michael C. White, author of A Beautiful Assassin
In her new life in Japan, Sarah Z. Sleeper’s protagonist, Lucy, is a fish out of water, and in over her head at the very same time. A candid, beautifully descriptive map of a young woman’s changing emotional landscape.
— Sally J. Pla, award-winning author of The Someday Birds
Gaijin is a captivating story about a young woman’s journey to a foreign land to investigate the unsettling disappearance of her Japanese lover. Poetic and exquisite storytelling at its best.
— S. B. Bell, author of The Art of Redemption
Sleeper has crafted a story that shows the various truths that can exist in regards to a place and how they can be contradictory for those who do not truly know a place...If you are looking for a read that shows you how someone’s views change through experiences this is a book you should pick up.
— The Nerdy Girl Express
I am not sure I ever in a novel read such a moving description of heartbreak. Perhaps I have red something similar in poems or heard it in songs, but not in a novel. We feel for Lucy.
— English Plus Language
"This is a beautiful story that highlights how dangerous it can be to create an idealized version of people or places without a balance of reality.”
— It’s Me the Bibliophile
"A little romance, a mystery, and experiencing a different culture makes this an interesting read.”
"The story has themes such as obsession, sexual assault, suicide, and the cluelessness of military life. Overall, I enjoyed the writing, especially, where the judge was startled and the courtroom silent.”
—Lorie’s Book Loft
"The reader comes to a deeper understanding of the difference between realism and idealism when reading Gaijin...This is a lovely little book, a quick but satisfying read.”
—The Cyber Librarian
"Sometimes it is easy for foreigners to get wrapped up in the fantasy of an unfamiliar culture and once it hits home, reality can be disappointing. Such is the case with Lucy in “Gaijin,” Sarah Z Sleeper’s superb debut novel. The author has penned a poetic and charming story filled similes and metaphors “His energy was warm, like a favorite oversize blanket” and peppered with poems and haikus. Despite being a small, easy to read book, the reader is immersed in Japanese culture, terms and traditions like tea ceremonies, all of which make the narrative come alive throughout the pages.”
"Sarah Sleeper has written a wondrous tale of a woman just starting to emerge from her cocoon and spreading her wings halfway across the world...Her story is a tale of bravery, recovery, renewal, and life, and readers are privileged to travel alongside her.”
—A Girl and Her Book Reviews
"Gaijin is a beautifully written tale of cultural and racial differences, but it’s also about acceptance and history (sometimes brutal) it also tells of violence and protests against the US too. In Japan, Lucy grows, she finds who she really is. It’s full of emotion and stunning descriptions of Japan itself. A thoughtful and thought provoking read.”
"This was an excellent story from start to finish. While I had my suspicions of why Owen left, it was the growth of Lucy that I loved the most. She first left for superficial reasons (finding her lost love) but instead we see this great growth in her character. I loved every moment!"
—Working Mommy Journal
"This book was beautifully written, and you could clearly tell that Sarah has been practicing her craft for most of her life. It flows incredibly well and makes this story a very quick read, and an insightful one. It shows the strength and intensity of first love. It explores the pain and the beauty of growth and change. It holds the term ‘outsider’ close and turns it into something to be celebrated. It reminds you to keep going and to follow your heart, even when all seems lost.”
"I loved how Lucy’s character developed and how the environment made her so much stronger."
—Books From Dusk Till Dawn