Author Interviews

Interview with Clarissa Goenawan

Today I am so excited to be featuring Clarissa Goenawan. This spring has been a rough time for book launches in general so I’ve tried to see if more authors wanted to be featured! It’s my pleasure to present an interview with Clarissa author of Rainbirds and The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida!

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida

University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

To Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda; Chie, Miwako’s best friend; and Fumi, Ryusei’s older sister, Miwako was more than the blunt, no-nonsense person she projected to the world. Heartbroken, Ryusei begs Chie to take him to the village where Miwako spent her final days. While he is away, Fumi receives an unexpected guest at their shared apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

Expanding on the beautifully crafted world of Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan gradually pierces through a young woman’s careful façade, unmasking her most painful secrets.


What was your writing process like for The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida versus Rainbirds? Did your process change writing your second book?

Actually, it was more or less the same. Both Rainbirdsand The Perfect World of Miwako Sumidaand Rainbirdsare my NaNoWriMo projects. Both of them took five years to complete. I spent a few months writing the first draft, and a few years editing it.

Can you talk about the inspiration behind your second book?

I’m fascinated with the idea that often, we thought that we know a person really well, but actually, we don’t. How far would you go to uncover the truth? And what if the truth is more painful than the lies?

What would you want readers to take away from The Perfect World?

I’ll take a rain check for this. I’ll leave it to the readers to come up with their conclusions 🙂

What are some ways you practice self-care?

I love Japanese tea. Whenever possible, I’d make time for a relaxing cup. It also serves as a reminder for me to take a break. My favorites are thin matcha (whisked the traditional way) and cold brew Genmaicha (Japanese green tea mixed with brown rice kernels—it has a lovely roasted flavor!)

Since last year, I’ve also been practicing yoga. As a full-time writer, I spend a long time being seated in front of my laptop. I used to have neck and shoulder pain, but recently, I no longer have that issue.

Can you remember a time you felt represented by the media?

A few years ago, I wrote a short story based loosely on my grandfather’s experience as a Chinese immigrant settling in Indonesia, including the forced assimilation implemented by the local government back then. It was a story I really wanted to write, but due to its sensitivity, I’d never really sought a place to publish it.

Sometime last year, InterSastra ( asked if I had any suitable piece. They’re an inclusive independent initiative committed to publishing works in English and Indonesian, especially those from the marginalized communities. I decided to entrust my story with them.

You can read the short story in its original language and Indonesian translation here:

You can find The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository. Also check out the publisher’s site!

About the Author

Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds, her first novel, has been published in eleven different languages.


What is your favorite companion novel?

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