Louise Painchaud is a lanky, lusty Albertan woman who sticks out wherever she goes. But never has she been more painfully obvious than in Japan, where her height, her bulk, and her Western directness make her the object of giggles and stares. This is the Japan of the eighties, flush with money, wild with possibility, afflicted with a severe case of self-worship — expressed most vividly in the country’s adoration of a slim golden pop star named Oro.

Louise is hired as an English language and dialogue coach by the School of Heartful Purity, an institution dedicated to staging kitschy Western musicals with Japanese all-girl casts. And there the gaijin giantess ends up playing Eurydice to the tiny Oro’s Orpheus in a love affair that scandalizes the nation. Realia mixes Japanese pop culture and Greek myth, crossdressing Japanese girls and muscular Japanese stuntmen, wild monkeys and earthquakes, speeding Maseratis and a woman who’ll try anything twice. A sexy, funny, irreverent, no-holds-barred work of fiction, Realia also explores how pop culture becomes contemporary myth, and how ancient myth still feeds the heart of pop culture.