NC Literary Hall of Fame



The Kimono Tattoo by Rebecca Copeland

Brother Mockingbird Publishing
$17.99, paperback / $8.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-734495058
June, 2021
Fiction: Literary / Mystery-Thriller
Available from your local bookstore or

"An intriguing mystery wrapped inside the beautifully rendered world of Kyoto. Rebecca Copeland's intimate knowledge of Japanese culture and custom shine throughout this novel."
—Susan Perabo, author of The Broken Places and The Fall of Lisa Bellow

"The Kimono Tattoo is an intelligent escape-into the past, into the mind, into a fascinating culture. Finely crafted and perfectly paced, this literary thriller remains engrossing long after the last sentence, opening a world that lingers in the imagination."
—Jeannette Cooperman, St. Louis Media Hall of Fame journalist, essayist, and author of A Circumstance of Blood

"It is not simply an exciting page-turner you cannot put down, but also an intricate thriller uniquely informed with the "kimono and tattoo philosophy," and immensely enriched by the protagonist's double perspective as both an insider and outsider-an American scholar living and working in Japan. The novel brings you so vividly into the kaleidoscope of the modern-day Japan, you want to make a trip there the next day, holding a copy of The Kimono Tattoo."
—Xiaolong Qiu, author of the award-winning Inspector Chen Series

"I jostled her shoulder and noticed when I did that her skin was cold to the touch....her entire torso was covered in tattoos from her collar bone to the midline of her thighs. All were of kimono motifs-fans, incense burners, peonies, and scrolls."

This ghastly scene was the last thing Ruth Bennett expected to encounter when she agreed to translate a novel by a long-forgotten Japanese writer. Returning to her childhood home in Kyoto had promised safety, solitude, and diversion from the wounds she encountered in the U.S. But Ruth soon finds the storyline in the novel leaking into her everyday life. Fictional characters turn out to be real, and the past catches up with the present in an increasingly threatening way.

As Ruth struggles to unravel the cryptic message hidden in the kimono tattoo, she is forced to confront a vicious killer along with her own painful family secrets.

Rebecca Copeland is a writer of fiction and literary criticism and a translator of Japanese literature. Her stories travel between Japan and the American South and touch on questions of identity, belonging, and self-discovery. The Kimono Tattoo, her debut novel, takes readers on a journey into Kyoto’s intricate world of kimono design, and into a mystery that interweaves family dynamics, loss, and reconciliation.

Her academic writings have focused almost exclusively on modern Japanese women writers, their battles against conservative literary expectations, and their wonderful, at times subversive creativity. She has translated the works of writer Uno Chiyo and novelist Kirino Natsuo. Her translation of Kirino’s The Goddess Chronicle won the PEN Translates Award, English PEN in 2013 and The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, 2014-2015.

For more visit Rebecca at

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