STARRED REVIEW
July 2015

Foreign feelings in a foreign land

By Tracy Slater
Review by
Tracy Slater thought she’d stay in Boston forever. A writing teacher with a Ph.D. in literature, Slater worked with diverse students, practiced yoga, published essays and enjoyed her close-knit community of friends. Yet one fateful summer, she agreed to teach English in Japan. “Don’t fall in love,” said her mother. Naturally, she did.
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Tracy Slater thought she’d stay in Boston forever. A writing teacher with a Ph.D. in literature, Slater worked with diverse students, practiced yoga, published essays and enjoyed her close-knit community of friends. Yet one fateful summer, she agreed to teach English in Japan. “Don’t fall in love,” said her mother. Naturally, she did. 

Enter Toru, a soft-spoken and quietly joyful Japanese man. Toru and Slater develop a deep emotional bond that baffles Slater’s friends and family. Against all odds, the pair indulges in a transcontinental romance that lingers long after Slater’s teaching stint in Asia ends. The Good Shufu chronicles their romance in all its charming—and occasionally painful—detail.

Slater is candid about the intellectual, emotional and cultural tensions in her new life. Why, she wonders, would a devoted feminist be happy to play shufu, or housewife, in a traditional Japanese context? How has life led to her cooking dinner three nights a week for her boyfriend and his dad? Why would someone who loves Boston so much take up a life in a land where she will always be a cultural outsider?

These questions are very much Slater’s own, yet anyone whose life didn’t quite turn out as they imagined can relate. The pleasure of this book is Slater’s ability to wrestle with very real contradictions in her life even as she masterfully unfolds a story of falling in love and finding home in unexpected places. 

 

This article was originally published in the July 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Good Shufu

The Good Shufu

By Tracy Slater
Putnam
ISBN 9780399166204

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