Goodbye Madame Butterfly, book

Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman. By Sumie Kawakami.

US$20
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Background on Sumie

Sumie has written for the following publications:

  • Knight Ridder
  • Mainichi Shimbun
  • J@pan Inc.

Other books by Sumie:

  • Tsuma no Koi: Tatoe Furin to Yobarete Mo (Wives in Love: Even if It's Called Adultery)

Sumie Kawakami is available for interviews. Please contact Chin Music Press for coordination.

Sumie Kawakami

Sumie Kawakami, author of Goodbye Madame ButterflyPerhaps the first thing you should know about Sumie Kawakami is that she does not give up. Whether she's winning the trust and confidence of the women featured in this book, running a marathon, completing an Ironman competition, or raising her teenage daughter by herself in Tokyo, she has a quiet, steely resolve that sees her through life's challenges.

This trait has served her well over her two decades of work as an editor, reporter and translator. She's had to knock on the door of crime victims to get interviews for the Mainichi Shimbun, a national newspaper in Japan where she started as a cub reporter; she's asked hard-hitting questions of corporate executives in later years as a business reporter for Knight-Ridder and other news services; and she rode out a stormy startup venture during Japan's Internet bubble.

Throughout this rocky but successful career, Kawakami has honed her writing skills and her warm, receptive interviewing style, which has reached new heights in Goodbye Madame Butterfly. Her combination of empathy and insight brings to life the women she interviews, replacing cliché with complexity. The result is a fascinating look into the minds and lives of modern Japanese women.

Goodbye Madame Butterfly builds on a book Kawakami co-authored in 2004, Tsuma no Koi: Tatoe Furin to Yobarete Mo (Wives in Love: Even if It's Called Adultery). That book examined why married women had affairs. In Goodbye Madame Butterfly, Kawakami broadens her scope to look at the various ways women struggle in their relationships, from having affairs to being locked in sexless marriages to finally finding freedom in unmarried life.

While Butterfly was written in Japanese, it is being published first in English by Chin Music Press. The topics Kawakami is touching on here are raw and under-reported in Japan. By publishing in the US first, Kawakami may gain necessary leverage to eventually publish in her home country.

Kawakami currently works for Japan Public Broadcasting, or NHK, Japan's largest public TV and radio broadcaster. She has a master's degree in political science from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor's in comparative culture/political science from Sophia University in Tokyo. She's a single mom with a teenage daughter, and she's an avid athlete, constantly training for races and competitions around the world. This is her first release in the US, but she contributed three essays to Chin Music Press' first book, the anthology Kuhaku & Other Accounts from Japan.