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Indonesian-born Clarissa Goenawan’s debut novel, “Rainbirds,” is set in Japan, was written in Singapore, and was first published in the U.S. (with foreign language rights sold in 10 countries and counting) making it something of a transnational literary tour de force.

It starts with 20-something Ren Ishida traveling to the fictional town of Akakawa to pick up the cremains of his murdered sister, Keiko, and talk to the police. While there, he falls into a job teaching at the cram school where his sister had been employed and decides to hang out for a while to try to figure out what happened to Keiko.

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