“Mesmerizing . . . At once sorrowful, intimate, and optimistic . . . Backhaus’ novel is courageous and spare, an enthralling success.”
—Booklist, starred review
“[A] strange and tender debut novel . . . His writing, which is as clear and direct as flowing water, convincingly portrays the deepening connection between Thomas and Megumi."
—The Wall Street Journal
“Told in a simple cadence that's almost poetic in its plainness, this elegant novel doesn't take long to read but leaves indelible impressions in its wake."
—iBookstore (Editors' Choice)
“This is one remarkable debut."
“Written deeply, cleanly, sparely and gently, like fingers playing over the strings of a harp."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
—The New York Post
“Jeff Backhaus’s intimate and moving portrait of a man hiding away from the world will wholly suck you in. It’s nearly impossible to believe that this heartbreaking novel is a debut."
—Mia Lipman (Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2013)
“[a] quiet but poignant exploration of loneliness and self-discovery...”
—USA TODAY (3.5 out of 4 stars)
Megumi, a young Japanese woman living in New York and hiding from her past, is hired to help rescue Thomas, an enigmatic, scarred man who has isolated himself in his bedroom for three years. With the tacit acceptance of Thomas’s wife, a passionate relationship develops between Megumi and Thomas. Its emotional impact and surprising conclusion will leave all three characters forever changed and stronger. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, The Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.
Your Lovely Small Face, an Algonquin E-Short, is the story of an American who's just immigrated to Korea in a risky scheme to resurrect his shattered career, prepare a home for his wife and daughter (who have promised to follow as soon as he lays a suitable foundation), and help his wife launch her own entrepreneurial venture.
The story is told through posts on a fictional Tumblr page, which the couple sets up to share their now-separate worlds. We watch as they communicate and miscommunicate with each other through their posts and photos, as they try to be honest about their lives but end up irresistibly manipulating their own experiences to get what they want.
Author Jeff Backhaus wrote the story based on thirty-nine photos he assembled from the thousands he's taken around the world—thin slices of his past he severed from his actual experience to create an illusion, a photofiction, a story.