The Baseball Widow
Official 2022 Pick of the International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club
Shelf Unbound 2021 Top Notable Book
Shortlisted for the 2021 CIBA Somerset Book Award
William Faulkner--William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition -- Finalist
When Christine, an idealistic young American teacher, meets and marries Hideki Yamada, an aspiring Japanese high school baseball coach, she believes that their love with be enough to sustain them as they deal with cultural differences. However, Hideki's duties, and the team of fit, obedient boys whom he begins to think of as a surrogate family, take up more and more of his time, just as Christine is struggling to manage the needs of their multiply-disabled daughter and their sensitive son. Things come to a head when their son is the victim of bullies. Christine begins to think that she and her children would be safer - and happier - in her native country. On a trip back to the States, she reconnects with a dangerously attractive friend from high school who, after serving and becoming wounded in Afghanistan, seems to understand her like no one else.
Meanwhile, Daisuke Uchida, a slugger with pro potential who has returned to Japan after living abroad, may be able to help propel Hideki's team to the national baseball tournament at Koshien. Not only would this be a dream come true for Hideki, but also it would secure the futures of his players, some of whom come from precarious homes. While Daisuke looks to Hideki for guidance, he is also distracted by Nana, a talented but troubled girl, whom he is trying to rescue from a life as a bar hostess (or worse). Hideki must ultimately choose between his team and his family.
The Baseball Widow explores issues of duty, disability, discrimination, violence, and forgiveness through a cross-cultural lens. Although flawed, these characters strive to advocate for fairness, goodness, and safety, while considering how their decisions have been shaped by their backgrounds.
"Suzanne Kamata's The Baseball Widow embeds her readers in the thorny lives of Japanese high school baseball coaches and bicultural families with even-handed compassion and insight. Kamata is a dazzling, deeply empathetic writer. - Kevin Chong, author of The Plague
"Through a diverse group of characters brought together by Japan's passion for baseball, Kamata explores identity, the loss of idealism, and the ragged beauties to be found in that loss." - Annabel Lyon, author of the Women's Prize longlisted novel Consent
"The Baseball Widow will have you turning pages to the point that the people around you will experience "book widow"-like symptoms! Through rich, complex characters and wildly unique yet realistic circumstances, Suzanne Kamata successfully introduces readers to a version of Japan unlike any they may have previously heard about. If Koshien is a must-see ballpark (and it is), then The Baseball Widow is a must-read novel!
Trevor Raichura, Hanshin Tigers English News
"Suzanne Kamata hits a homer. Well-worth perusing, The Baseball Widow is disturbing and engaging in its exploration of themes of being a stranger in a strange land then not being able to go hone again. The writing is crisp and the many chapters from the points of view of the Japanese characters are on the money all the way through to the duty-bound end." - Eric Madeen, author of Water Drumming in the Soul: A Novel of Racy Love in the Heart of Africa and Asian Trail Mix: True Tales from Borneo to Japan
"Suzanne Kamata has penned yet another compelling page-turner about life and love in Japan, telling it like it is, with details and background I can vouch for as a fellow ex-pat." - Wendy Jones Nakanishi, a.k.a. Lea O'Harra, author of Lady First (An Inspector Inoue Mystery)
"The author nails in particular the experience of Christine, an American married to a Japanese man. The novel is a moving portrayal of what it is like to be adrift between cultures." -- Louise Heal Kawai, translator of The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa
"Kamata's authentic glimpse into Japanese life is appealing and her prose deftly exposes her characters' flaws while evoking empathy. The Baseball Widow is a moving read of great emotional depth." -- The Japan Times