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Memoir Writing and Editorial Coaching with Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi

Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi: The Wagamama Bride
author of "The Wagamama Bride"

You’ve got a first draft in your hand, or a near-final draft, and now you’re ready to have another set of eyes review your memoir, offer a fresh take, and insights, and help you lift your story-telling to new heights.



The Wagamama Bride: A Jewish Family Saga Made in Japan opens readers to life in Tokyo today, as seen through the eyes of an American Jewish journalist who marries her shiatsu therapist, a practitioner of Eastern Medicine. Their relationship becomes romantic following an invitation to a significant family event, a Buddhist funeral. This material girl from New York City ends up becoming a wife and mother, attending her son’s Sports Day events armed with kosher rice balls for the entire family. As a daughter-in-law with deep respect for her new culture, she laughs often with her in-laws, who happen to share her appreciation for art exhibitions in Tokyo department stores. It is a match made in Heaven—until two young Orthodox couples, arriving as Tokyo emissaries of the Lubavitch Rebbe, root themselves in the Chabad Houses they establish, and shake up her world.

Grunberg Wakabayashi couldn’t see it coming–falling in love with Orthodox Jewish practices and the beauty and meaning of the Orthodox rituals and wisdom. She takes comfort in the sense of community that her Chabad community offers to her children and even her Japanese husband.  

Spanning her Jewish-Japanese life over three decades, The Wagamama Bride invites readers into an increasingly Sabbath-observant home to experience a marriage caught in a delicate balancing act between the opposing views of two of the worlds’ most ancient and noble cultures, where sacrifice and identity, idol-worship and idol prohibitions must be negotiated while raising Jewish children with Japanese roots. 

With gentle affection, the author shares with readers the novelties of Japanese culture. She willingly joins her husband in following Taoist meditation practices, Shinto childhood rites of passage, and Buddhist temple traditions. She leaves no stone unturned in finding parallels within her Jewish faith. Despite an instinctive sense of familiarity with her new culture, a growing feeling of disconnection nags within. The author’s real transformation takes place one Shabbat at a time, in observance of Orthodox Judaism with the Chabad community. The result is a spiritual homecoming.

 The prose is irresistibly lively, even when a death in her family and the hospitalization of her elder child test her to the limits. The Wagamama Bride expresses what Kirkus Reviews called “an honest and moving account of love, loss, and the discovery of faith.” The adventures of this free spirit, grounded in tradition and family—will strike a familiar chord with readers of all nationalities and backgrounds, searching for one’s true self far from home.

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Goshen Books introduces new and acclaimed memoir writers who have spent decades living far from home. Moderated by Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi, hear native English memoir writers, based in Japan and other countries, as they read from their books, offer tips and inspiration about the memoir-writing process, and answer questions from a worldwide audience about breaking down borders on the road to finding themselves at home – in a challenging, but overall rich and rewarding, new world.

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The Making of the Wagamama Bride

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