Harmless Like You
by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Harmless Like You


When the meaning of ‘home’ is complicated, we strive for a sense of connection.  Yet sometimes being alone feels like the easiest choice to make. In  1968  Yuki is 16 and has not one friend in all of New York. It’s the year her parents move back to Tokyo, but Yuki decides to stay. As she sketches out her new life, it is also the year she’ll fall in love with a shade of orange, climb out a window, meets an aspiring model, and run tangle-haired through the night. In  2016  gallery owner Jay becomes a father, believing he is a happily married man. It’s the year he will finally confront his mother, who abandoned their family when he was two years old.  Her name is Yuki Oyama and she has been living for decades as an artist in Berlin.

Praise from the Desmond Elliott Prize

“Here is a narrative framed by a grown-up son’s pilgrimage to his mother (emphatically not a shrine to maternity) which loops around the decades and across continents to form a perfect arc of revelation and reconciliation. Told in tandem by the teenaged Yuki and the troubled Jay, their stories cover harsh terrain, signalled by abuse, shadowed by abandonment. Buchanan deftly traverses this toxic narrative landscape, the violence of the emotional, and actual, blows diffused by the tender beauty of the bruised text.”

About the Author

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a Japanese-British-Chinese-American writer. She has a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is currently working on a PhD at the University of East Anglia. Her writing has appeared in, among other places, GrantaGuernica  and The Harvard Review and she received a Margins fellowship for the Asian American Writers Workshop. She has lived in London, New York, Tokyo, Madison and Norwich.