The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida: Secret lives in Japan

Secrets and fabrications are at the heart of Clarissa Goenawan’s intriguing second novel

Clarissa Goenawan: An inventive writer

Clarissa Goenawan: An inventive writer

The so-called perfect life of a Japanese teenager is the focus of Clarissa Goenawan’s second novel, an offbeat, tender exploration of the secrets we keep from others.

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida initially gives the impression that it might be about Instagram culture, a heavily manicured world of online profiles and their suggestions of flawless, faultless living. But Goenawan instead chooses to start her book in 1989, a time when people were less inclined to speak out about their stories or “their truths”. It is interesting to get this glimpse of a fairly recent past whose culture – not just in Japan – made it difficult for victims or those on the outside to be part of the mainstream.

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