In Homa Pourasgari’s novel THE AMERICAN OUTSIDER, veterinarian and animal welfare activist Tessa Walker, tormented by thoughts of the brutalization of wild dolphins by the Japanese fishing industry, is compelled to leave her home in Los Angeles to join protests in Japan against the inhumane practice. In Tokyo, the strong-willed and deeply impassioned Tessa finds herself in a world that is in many ways utterly alien to the values she’s grown up with—a world that prizes conformity over individuality and social harmony over free expression. Fortunately, Tessa has a friend in Tokyo, a woman named Akira Nakano, a fellow activist who becomes a valuable guide and ally as Tessa maneuvers the often bewildering complexities of Japanese social conventions and traditions. And when Tessa encounters Toshiro Yokoyama, a charming, spirited younger man—thirty years to Tessa’s forty—she plunges deeper into the turbulent waters of Japanese society and an adventure that could cost her her freedom.
THE AMERICAN OUTSIDER, the Tehran-born Pourasgari’s third novel (following Lemon Curd and The Dawn of Saudi), was inspired by the 2009 documentary feature The Cove, an investigation into the brutal hunting of dolphins and whales in Japan, and efforts by the Japanese fishing industry and government to thwart anti-hunting activism. Shocked by the inhumane treatment of dolphins and dismayed by seeing the world moving on to other issues in the years since The Cove brought the topic to the world’s attention, Pourasgari was moved to write THE AMERICAN OUTSIDER as a way to rekindle awareness while exploring the author’s curiosity about Japanese society and culture. The novel’s dual focus, chronicling Tessa’s activist crusade while exploring her complex relationship with Toshiro against the backdrop of Tokyo’s high society (twin storylines that inevitably become dramatically entwined), seems initially incongruous, but Tessa’s romance—for all its thorny complications—becomes a much-needed breather from the harsh realities of the more weighty issues the author tackles. And make no mistake, Pourasgari doesn’t hold back in describing the grim treatment of the dolphins, which may distress even the most hardened of readers. THE AMERICAN OUTSIDER deftly navigates both storylines with sensitivity, empathy, and a keen eye for the manners and unspoken rules of the aristocracy in which Tessa finds herself.
THE AMERICAN OUTSIDER powerfully conveys the depth of the author Homa Pourasgari’s concern for animal welfare while delivering a touching, finely crafted tale of love and adventure that brims over with heart.
~Edward Sung for IndieReader