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.
June 30, 2015
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
Advance praise for The Good Shufu
“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