Author: Clarissa Goenawan

Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister, Keiko's, sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister's affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind.

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Original Language

ENGLISH (World) | Soho Press
ENGLISH (Singapore) | Math Paper Press
ENGLISH (Audio) | Highbridge
ENGLISH (UK) | Corsair / Little, Brown

Translation Rights

CHINESE (Simplified) | Beijing White Horse Time
FRENCH | Les Escales
GERMAN | Thiele Verlag
GREEK | Oceanida/Niki Ekdotiki
HEBREW | Tamir/Sendik Books
ITALIAN | Carbonio Editore
POLISH | Prószyński Media
SPANISH | AdN/Alianza

Film Rights

Film rights sold


Winner of the 2015 Bath Novel Award (UK)

Finalist of the 2015 Dundee International Book Prize (UK)

Shortlisted for the 2015 SFWP Literary Award (US)

Shortlisted for the First Novel Prize 2016 (UK)


«This literary debut is sure to spark your attention» Bustle

«Luminous, sinister and page-turning all at once. I loved it. » —Kate Hamer, author of the best-selling novel The Girl in the Red Coat

«Rainbirds is that rarest of debut novels—confident, transportive, and utterly enthralling. Clarissa Goenawan explores the mysteries of small-town Japan, drawing readers in with understated prose, then ensnaring with a subtle spell, exposing, grain by grain, the secrets behind a young woman’s death. » —Barry Lancet, award-winning author of The Spy Across the Table and Japantown

«Rainbirds has a hook that instantly draws you in, a crime premise that completely defies and exceeds expectations. I devoured it in one sitting, the final pages leaving me devastated in the best way possible. A beautiful, well-crafted story, Rainbirds is an exploration of grief, love and loss. Clarissa Goenawan has written a powerful debut novel that will leave readers craving more.» —Hollie Overton, internationally bestselling author of Baby Doll and The Walls

«A hauntingly moving story of loss and alienation.»  —Jake Arnott, internationally bestselling author of The Long Firm and The House of Rumour

«Beautiful crime fiction like no other, with a magical love story. » —Eka Kurniawan, Indonesian most celebrated and award-winning novelist, author of Beauty is a Wound

«Rainbirds is a deeply immersive novel: I lost myself in Goenawan's masterful rendering of a sleepy Japanese town.»  —Elisa Lodato, author of An Unremarkable Body

«Like the imaginary town in Japan in which it takes place, Rainbirds possesses a charm that is at once cloistered, quiet, and mysterious. Carefully crafted and paced, the novel captivates with its reflective, dreamlike tone. A promising debut from Clarissa Goenawan.»  —Dee Lestari, award-winning singer-songwriter and author of the Supernova series

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