Susan Barker

Sayonara Bar


‘Highly original… A major achievement by an exciting new author.’ Independent (five star review)

‘Pace and excitement of a thriller… Funny, crisply written and engaging.’ The Times

‘Sayonara Bar is a cocktail of astringent cultural observations, genres stirred and shaken, subplots served with a twist.’ Time Magazine 

‘A beautifully written and far-reaching exploration of Japanese culture from first-time novelist Susan Barker.’ Independent on Sunday, Books of the Year

‘Chimera-like in its progression, “Sayonara Bar” metamorphoses between crime story, elements of SF fantasy and social commentary, providing an original if somewhat squalid look at the dark underside of life in Kansai.’ Japan Times

Shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award (2006)

Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize (2006)




Mary, a blond graduate from England, has drifted into a job in a hostess lounge in Osaka. She and other ‘economy geishas’ are employed by the enigmatic Mama san to spend their evenings flirting with Japanese salarymen. Mary is in love with Yuji, Mama san’s handsome son. But Yuji’s loyalty is to the Yakuza gangster for whom he works.

Watanabe, the introverted cook, watches Mary from The Sayonara Bar’s kitchen, where exists in his own manga-fuelled fantasy of the fourth dimension. When he perceives the danger Mary is in, he resolves to protect her whatever the cost.

Mr Sato works for the Daiwa Trading Corporation. Obsessive overwork cannot cover the emptiness of his solitary life. Lured against his will to The Sayonara Bar by his boss, he finds himself returning there to escape his dead wife’s ghost.

Edgy, sly, and often very funny, SAYONARA BAR spins a kaleidoscopic, genre-crossing tale of people cut adrift in a shrinking, globalized world.

Published  2005  UK (Doubleday/Transworld), 2007 US (St Martin’s Press)