Catfish Rolling: A Novel
“Excellent, evocative, and thoughtful with genuine depth” (New York Times bestselling author Nicola Yoon), Catfish Rolling is a wholly original and mind-bending debut YA novel by Clara Kumagai about memory, family, and an earthquake that breaks apart time.
There’s a catfish under Japan, and when it rolls the land rises and falls. At least that’s what Sora was told after she lost her mother to an earthquake so powerful that it cracked time itself. Sora and her father are some of the few who still live near one of these “zones”—the places where time has been irrevocably sped up or slowed down.
Sora’s father leads a research team studying the zones, and even as his colleagues begin to fall ill, he refuses to stop entering the zones himself. Sora finds herself stuck and increasingly alone as her father starts behaving strangely—he’s disoriented and his memory seems to be deteriorating. Sora, meanwhile, has been secretly conducting her own research on the zones, tracking down a time expert in Tokyo and surprising herself with a crush on a strikingly confident girl named Maya, another hafu girl with whom she forms an instant bond.
But when Sora’s father disappears, she has no choice but to return home, with Maya in tow, and venture deep into the abandoned time zones to find him and perhaps the catfish itself . . .
Praise for Catfish Rolling: A Novel
“Catfish Rolling hooked me from its opening line and held me suspended until its end. In this utterly fresh debut, Kumagai draws readers into a richly-imagined world that is equal parts visceral and poetic. Her prose absolutely sings, her characters are evocative, and the message woven within this story’s pages is so beautifully rendered. Truly, a literary tour de force.”—Ayana Gray, New York Times-bestselling author of the Beasts of Prey trilogy
“Set in a world shattered by loss and haunted by memories, spirits, and folktale creatures, Catfish Rolling is a stirring exploration of the relationship between time and grief. Lovingly crafted and beautifully written, this tale will linger with you long after the story comes to an end.”—Traci Chee, author of Printz Honor Book We Are Not Free
“Excellent, evocative, and thoughtful, with genuine depth.”—Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Time, mourning, and the magical slow swirl in this evocative novel about life after/with trauma. A life worth living. Marvelous!”—Hiromi Goto, author of Shadow Life
“Kumagai's exquisite debut moves effortlessly between lyrical reflections and contemporary teenage concerns... It’s infused with Japanese myth (the earthquakes are explained with reference to a giant catfish living beneath the ground) as well as echoing the thoughtful, big-question-asking works of YA writers like Madeleine L’Engle and AS King. Fiendishly good.”—The Irish Times
“An outstanding debut, this is a unique and ambitious story of grief and coming of age, woven around a rich backdrop of Japanese folklore, culture and magical realism.”—The Guardian
“The writing is sublime and it’s a rewarding, thought-provoking read.”—Irish Independent
“A gorgeously written, thoughtful read that combines science, Japanese mythology and human emotion to great effect.”—Irish Examiner
"Kumagai skillfully creates an immersive sense of place—replete with shrines, merchandising, and Pocari Sweat—where the myth of the earthquake-causing catfish both precipitates and helps Sora come to terms with what she’s lost and how to move forward."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Poetic, expressive writing creates a fascinating tale blending myth, legend, philosophy, and science. An intriguing, contemplative tale."—Kirkus
"With poignant observations, Kumagai tells the powerful story of a young woman navigating grief and her new normal. [H]eartbreaking and empowering...readers will be rewarded with a rich exploration of grief, society, and finding yourself."—Booklist
Told in clear yet pensive prose, Sora’s story unfolds in pieces that flit forward and back in a disorienting and ambitious yet compelling narrative.—The Horn Book Magazine