The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The Good Shufu is an hilarious and emotional account of the author's transformation from a fiercely independent American career woman into a good Japanese wife.  Full of wit and charm!

— From Phyllis


The brave, wry, irresistible journey of a fiercely independent American woman who finds everything she ever wanted in the most unexpected place.
Shufu: in Japanese it means “housewife,” and it’s the last thing Tracy Slater ever thought she’d call herself. A writer and academic, Tracy carefully constructed a life she loved in her hometown of Boston. But everything is upended when she falls head over heels for the most unlikely mate: a Japanese salary-man based in Osaka, who barely speaks her language.

Deciding to give fate a chance, Tracy builds a life and marriage in Japan, a country both fascinating and profoundly alienating, where she can read neither the language nor the simplest social cues. There, she finds herself dependent on her husband to order her food, answer the phone, and give her money. When she begins to learn Japanese, she discovers the language is inextricably connected with nuanced cultural dynamics that would take a lifetime to absorb. Finally, when Tracy longs for a child, she ends up trying to grow her family with a Petri dish and an army of doctors with whom she can barely communicate.

And yet, despite the challenges, Tracy is sustained by her husband’s quiet love, and being with him feels more like “home” than anything ever has. Steadily and surely, she fills her life in Japan with meaningful connections, a loving marriage, and wonder at her adopted country, a place that will never feel natural or easy, but which provides endless opportunities for growth, insight, and sometimes humor. A memoir of travel and romance, The Good Shufu is a celebration of the life least expected: messy, overwhelming, and deeply enriching in its complications.

About the Author

Tracy Slater is the founder of Four Stories, a global literary series in Boston, Osaka, and Tokyo, for which she was awarded the PEN New England’s Friend to Writers Award in 2008. An essay on her bi-continental life was published in Best Women’s Travel Writing 2008, and her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, The Chronicle Review, and the New York Times Motherlode blog.

Praise For…

Praise for The Good Shufu

“Winning . . . Slater’s retrenchments [are] epic, spanning continents, cultures, and languages. She relates them in pleasingly earnest, self-reflective, and sometimes amusing ways.”—Boston Globe

“With self-deprecating humor and a sharp recognition of the prejudices and stereotypes operating at both ends of the globe, author Tracy Slater quietly breaks down assumptions with a keen sense of humor. . . . The Good Shufu is a literary memoir with enough cross-cultural wisdom to warrant a place on any Japanophile’s bookshelf.”—The Japan Times

“[A] moving cross-cultural memoir.”National Geographic

“A heartfelt and moving tale, coupling insights into two remarkably different cultures with a love story that, as much as any true love story can, delivers a happy ending.”—Kirkus Reviews

“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.”—BookPage

“Fascinating and often comical . . . You know what they say: Life is full of surprises, the heart wants what it wants, etc., etc. Slater’s touching story proves the adages true while shedding light on what it takes to make a relationship — inter-cultural or otherwise — work.”Bustle

“Tracy Slater’s charming The Good Shufu reminded me of Eat, Pray, Love — rewritten by Woody Allen! With equal parts humor and heart, Slater narrates her tale of falling in love with a Japanese man and, then, Japan itself. Slater’s real triumph is her ability to probe both inward and outward, to chronicle both the ways in which Japan transformed her—emotionally, politically, even physically—and her evolving take on Japan itself. Brave, unabashed, and also just plain old fun.”—Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

“A thoughtful, involving examination of what happens when a thoroughly American woman says “I do” not just to a man, but to a new culture, country, and way of life. Filled with fascinating tidbits about Japan's quirks and customs, this debut is as informative as it is entertaining.” —Sarah Pekkanen, internationally bestselling author of Catching Air
“From Boston to Osaka, Tracy Slater writes about the intersection of romance and culture shock with great sensitivity. The Good Shufu is a story about how people communicate and love each other in unexpected ways and places, a fish-out-of-water tale that illustrates the ever-expanding definition of family.”—Ann Mah, author of Mastering the Art of French Eating

“Tracy Slater is one of those great women who refused to give up when so many people said she should. (She’s my kind of woman.) Honest, brave, and moving, this is the perfect book for someone who needs to believe big dreams can come true.” —Amy Cohen, New York Times–bestselling author of The Late Bloomer’s Revolution

“Told with tenderness and insight, Slater’s story gives us permission to gambatte (go for it!) whether our biggest dream is to travel the world or start a family. The Good Shufu upends traditional notions of strength and identity and offers a new language for what it means to be home.”—Janna Cawrse Esarey, author of The Motion of the Ocean

Product Details
ISBN: 9780399166204
ISBN-10: 0399166203
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: June 30th, 2015
Pages: 336
Language: English