Book of the month

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Discussion Guide

Fault Lines: A Novel

By Emily Itami

Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether she would rather throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband and hanging up laundry.

Then, one rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him, she rediscovers freedom, friendship, and the neon, electric pulse of the city she has always loved. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives—and in the end, we can choose only one.

Funny, provocative, and startlingly honest, Fault Lines is for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and asked, who am I and how did I get here? A bittersweet love story and a piercing portrait of female identity, it introduces Emily Itami as a debut novelist with astounding resonance and wit.

This book of the month and discussion guide was shared and sponsored in partnership with Harper Collins.

Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

What are your initial impressions of Mizuki? Are you sympathetic to her circumstances? Why or why not?
What do we learn about Mizuki before she had children and settled down? In what ways do you think her past—family, passions, travel, career—influenced the person Mizuki is today?
At one point, Mizuki wonders: “Is it normal to fluctuate so quickly between feeling tender towards your husband and fervently wishing him a violent death?” Think about some of the moments of tenderness Mizuki and Tatsuya share. How would you characterize their marriage? Do you think these moments balance out the resentment and frustration Mizuki also feels towards her husband?

"Mizuki is one of the most engaging adulteresses I’ve ever encountered, and a wonderfully witty guide to the morals and mores of contemporary Tokyo. I now know just how to behave while picking up children from school, or meeting strangers. Fault Lines is a moving and suspenseful novel full of the best kinds of incidental wisdom."

   — Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field


“Fault Lines manages to be clever, wise, and heartbreaking all at once -- the book is the perfect marriage of Sally Rooney and early Murakami, with a unique insight into marriage, motherhood, and warring cultural expectations that is all Emily Itami's own. Absolutely brilliant."

   — Kathy Wang, author of Impostor Syndrome



   — Booklist