When the inhabitants of earth run out of trees, they colonize the planet Athshe, dispossessing the small, green, furry humanoids who live there and harvesting the wood from their forests.
Ruth, a Japanese-American writer based in Waletown, British Columbia, finds a hello kitty lunchbox on the beach that carries within it the diary of Nao, a California-born teenager who moved to Japan with her family after her father lost his Silicon Valley job in the 90s. As Ruth becomes immersed in the drama of Nao’s life, she begins to worry that Nao’s journal was carried across the Pacific in a gyre after the 2011 tsunami.
In this autofictional novel set in New York City, the narrator tells the story of how the book came to be. We learn that the novel was financed based on the promise of a short story that the narrator “Ben” published in The New Yorker, and we see the conception of the project change as the narrator works his way from “fraudulence to sincerity in the sinking city.”