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Poetry and Fiction

Japanese American Resource Library

 

Poetry

Believers in America, Steven Izuki (1994)
Poems about Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

Camp Notes and Other Poems, Mitsuye Yamada (1992)

Drawing the Line, Lawson Fusao Inada (1997)

Legends from Camp, Lawson Fusao Inada (1993)

May Sky: There is Always Tomorrow, Compiled and translated by Violet Kazue de Cristoforo (1997)
A history and anthology of Haiku in the WWII internment camps for Japanese American citizens.

Poets Behind Barbed Wire, Keiho Soga, Taisanboku Mori, Sojin Takei, Muin Ozaki (1983)

Touching the Stones, Oregon Nikkei Endowment (1994)
This book is about 13 stones in Portland, OR. The words upon the stones are brief poems that can be read in a moment, poems that are about passing moments in time.

Fiction

The Climate of the Country, Marnie Mueller (1999)
The tragic and dramatic story of Tule Lake Japanese American Segregation Camp during WWII. Narrated by Denton Jordan, a conscientious objector, and his wife Esther, who are both living and working in the camp, this is a gripping tale of the disintegration of loyalty, love and friendship which takes place during a disturbing piece of American history.

Death in Little Tokyo, Dale Furutani (1996)
It’s Ken Tanaka’s turn to stage a mock mystery for the Los Angeles Mystery Club and he’s determined to do it right. Tanaka sets himself up as a fake P.I., only to have a femme fatale straight out of the movies try to hire him. Taking the case, Ken’s detecting leads him to a mutilated corpse in a Little Tokyo hotel room. The police suspect Tanaka, and to clear his name, he becomes caught up in a mystery involving the Japanese Mafia and an international smuggling scheme. From the quaint shops of Little Tokyo to a seedy strip joint, the murderer’s trail leads back to a tragic chapter in America’s past.

Go, Holly Uyemoto (1995)
Wil is one week away from her 21st birthday, but wonders if she’ll ever see the day. Depressed by a breakup with her politically correct boyfriend and fortified with a prescription for lithium, she returns from college to her family…back to where the trouble all started. Through Wil’s unsentimental eyes and wry voice, we meet close-up her perfect and perfectly infuriating mother; her silent mathematician father; her legendary grandfather in his days of strength and in the years of his slow decline; her bizarrely mismatched and wildly assorted uncles and aunts; her legion of cousins who have tried by failed to live up to such names as Grace, Hope, Faith, and Joy. Determined to understand better the forces that have shaped her, Wil draws on memories of her grandparents and weaves together wisps of stories told of her elders’ experiences in WWII internment camps. As familial legends and personal truths slowly entwine, Wil knows that she must find her own threads in her family’s complicated tapestry or reconcile herself to emotional exile.

No-No Boy, John Okada (1946)
A moving novel concerning the loyalty issues of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson (1995)
San Piedro island, north of Puget Sound, is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during WWII, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.

Treadmill, Hiroshi Nakamura (1996)
The only novel written about life in the WWII camps for Japanese and Japanese-Americans while that singular way of life was being played out.

What the Scarecrow Said, Stewart David Ikeda (1990)
Epic novel of a Japanese American family which begins with the birth of its hero aboard the ship that brings his parents to the United States and ends in the aftermath of a great national shame: the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during WWII. A rich and expansive novel of family, alienation, reconciliation, and the cost of America’s war on some of its own people.

Why She Left Us, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (1999)
Tells us the story of 3 generations of a Japanese-American family whose lives are tragically affected by the second WW when they are interned in camps in the American west. It is also a searing yet redemptive novel about a family and its secrets, secrets that grow from fierce love and terrible fear whose sources are both personal and cultural. The story unfolds like a mystery, narrated by the 4 principle characters: the innocents, Mari and her brother, Eric; the complex uncle – patriarch, Jack; and the ghost of the grandmother Kaori. Why She Left Us illuminates the universal relationships between mothers and their children while evoking the power of history to affect individual lives.