Book Reviews

How to make mochi

MOCHI MAGIC: 50 TRADITIONAL AND MODERN RECIPES FOR THE JAPANESE TREAT By Kaori Becker (North Adams, Mass.: Storey Publishing, 2020, 192 pp., $16.95, paperback) “Mochi Magic” is a fun, cute — in fact downright adorable — and incredibly useful book of recipes for making, you guessed it, mochi. The diminutive volume is just 6-and-a-half inches […]

Asian American all-stars

AWESOME ASIAN AMERICANS: 20 STARS WHO MADE AMERICA AMAZING By Phil Amara and Oliver Chin, illustrated by Juan Calle (San Francisco: Immedium, 2020, 128 pp., $17.95, paperback) Here’s a book describing 20 Asian Americans who became trailblazers, paving the way for all Asians in our country in diverse fields. “Not all are household names. Some […]

On being Asian American in Hollywood

INTERIOR CHINATOWN By Charles Yu (New York: Pantheon Books, 2020, 288 pp., $16, paperback) During Act I of Charles Yu’s comical and award-winning novel, “Interior Chinatown,” I had a flashback to the mid-1980s when my late father, Nisei writer/actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi, landed a role as a Chinese coolie in a murder mystery play. As Yu […]

A window into the resistance at Granada (Amache)

FINDING SOLACE IN THE SOIL: AN ARCHEOLOGY OF GARDENS AND GARDENERS AT AMACHE By Bonnie J. Clark (Louisville, Colo: University Press of Colorado, 2020, 224 pp., $58, hard cover) This new book, as its title suggests, explores the archaeological digs directed by author Bonnie J. Clark on the grounds of the wartime Japanese American confinement […]

The ties that bind

MOUNTAIN MOVERS: Student Activism & The Emergence of Asian American Studies Edited by Russell Jeung, Karen Umemoto, Harvey Dong, Eric Mar, Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani, Arnold Pan (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2019, 276 pp., $22, paperback) Those of us who are involved in Japanese American and Asian American Pacific Islander causes and organizations […]

S.F. J-Town’s redevelopment-era transformation

THE GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC: JAPANESE AMERICANS AND THE REMAKING OF SAN FRANCISCO By Meredith Oda (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019, 304 pp., $35, paperback) My first visit to San Francisco’s Japantown occurred in May 1974. It came about when I, along with two colleagues in the Japanese American Project of the Oral History […]

A ‘community study’ of Minidoka

AN EYE FOR INJUSTICE: ROBERT C. SIMS AND MINIDOKA Edited by Susan M. Stacy (Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University Press, 2020, 246 pp., $21.95, paperback) During the May 1995 symposium that Mike Mackey organized in Powell, Wyo. on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans at the nearby Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Mackey toured Bob Sims […]

Academic calls for Latinx and Asian Americans to transform the nation

GIVING FORM TO AN ASIAN AND LATINX AMERICA By Long Le-Khac (Redwood City, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2020, 264 pp., $28, paperback) Since 2000, the Asian American population in the United States has grown to nearly 20 million. At this rate, according to the Pew Research Center, by 2055, Asian Americans will be the largest […]

Ambitious, emotionally raw novel on camp

WE ARE NOT FREE By Traci Chee (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020, 400 pp., $17.99, hardcover) Yonsei author Traci Chee’s ambitious new novel, “We Are Not Free,” weaves 13 devastating stories of San Francisco Japantown Nisei reeling in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Immediate, personal and pulsing with drama, the book takes […]

Inmates’ historical narratives for the layperson

REMEMBERING OUR GRANDFATHERS’ EXILE: US IMPRISONMENT OF HAWAI‘I’S JAPANESE IN WORLD WAR II By Gail Y. Okawa (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2020, 272 pp., $26, paperback) Back in 1980, very little had been written about the World War II imprisonment experience of more than 5,500 Japanese American aliens (Issei) within the hodgepodge of 24 […]

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