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A “funny [and] enchanting” novel about a Japanese-American mother and daughter—and a legendary Italian tenor (The New Yorker).
Hanako Shimoda, recently divorced, is fixated on Luciano Pavarotti—and convinced that he will accept her invitation to dinner at her Westchester County home. And to prepare for the opera star’s upcoming visit, she’s hired a contractor to renovate the kitchen.
Hanako’s daughter, Emily, a fully assimilated American, is in a holding pattern at the moment. With no real career plan after college, she has gone back to work at her old summer job—waiting tables at the local Japanese steakhouse. Even worse than wearing a fake kimono and obi is that she’s living at home with her mother. At first, her mom seems pretty much her old self: still reliving her Japanese childhood; still affecting the airs of a European sophisticate; still brewing espresso, cooking Italian, and singing arias from Rigoletto while she cleans; still idolizing Luciano Pavarotti.
But once Hanako hires the handsome Alex, Emily begins to worry. The Greek-American contractor seems to be getting very cozy with her mother, and the once-harmless Pavarotti obsession seems to have turned into full-blown delusion. Emily may have to step in to rescue her lonely mom before she completely loses it—but along the way, she may find that she’s been kidding herself about a few things, too . . .
“Though humorously drawn, Esaki-Smith’s novel never ridicules her slightly eccentric characters, presenting all their deliciously human faults and foibles in a warmly sympathetic manner.” —Booklist
“[A] polished, gentle first novel . . . [Emily’s] fraught relationship with her mother is heartfelt and complicated.” —Publishers Weekly
“Sublime . . . Like the steakhouse where Emily works, which was built without a single nail, Esaki-Smith’s first novel is a precisely constructed work of art, and your pleasure in discovering its multiple layers will have you singing her praises.” —Newsday