Book Reviews

The sexual and moral landscape of 1890s S.F.

DISCRIMINATING SEX: White Leisure and the Making of the American ‘Oriental’ By Amy Sueyoshi (Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2018, 228 pp., $99, cloth; $26, paperback) Amy Sueyoshi, professor and administrator at San Francisco State University, has long been a pioneer in tracing the intersection of Asian American studies and sexuality studies. Her first […]

A song becomes a book

JELLYFISH By Lesli Takasugi (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018, 48 pp., $15.99, paperback) “Jellyfish” was originally a song written and performed by Lesli Takasugi, an artist, songwriter and teacher. When her daughter Mukti was born, it inspired her to turn the song into a book. Just inside the front cover, the book begins with beautiful […]

A ‘family-themed inquiry’ into the ‘wages of war’

WHEN THE AKIMOTOS WENT TO WAR: AN UNTOLD STORY OF FAMILY, PATRIOTISM, AND SACRIFICE DURING WORLD WAR IIBy Matthew Elms (Arlington, Va.: American Battle Monuments Commission, 2015, 146 pp., $15, paperback) This book by Matthew Elms is a heart-rending Japanese American family-themed inquiry into the dismaying “wages of war.” It is published by the American […]

Engaging kids with culture

My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book By Michelle Haney Brown; illustrated by Aya Padrón (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2017, 32 pp., $10.95, hard cover) “My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book” by Michelle Haney Brown is a delightfully colored children’s book that manages to engage kids with […]

Nikkei literary pioneer re-examined

JOHN OKADA: THE LIFE AND REDISCOVERED WORK OF THE AUTHOR OF NO-NO BOY Edited by Frank Abe, Greg Robinson and Floyd Cheung (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018, 376 pp., $29.95 paperback, $90 hardcover) For Japanese American writers and readers, John Okada is our Lady Murasaki — the first to have produced a book-length piece […]

Fathoming the ‘lessons and limits of history’

LETTERS TO MEMORY By Karen Tei Yamashita (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2017, 200 pp., $19.95, paperback) In his insightful Sept. 13, 2017 Christian Science Monitor review of Karen Tei Yamashita’s “Letters to Memory,” Terry Hong concluded with this appraisal: “Allusive, quirky, questioning, ‘Letters’ is a challenging text . . . dense with assumptions of cultural […]

Documenting an evolving movement

NCRR: THE GRASSROOTS STRUGGLE FOR JAPANESE AMERICAN REDRESS AND REPARATIONS By Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Press, 2018, 400 pp., $30, paperback) In recognition of my modest role in the conception and organization of this stellar volume, I received a complimentary copy from Lane Hirabayashi, the lead editor […]

A rebel with many causes

REBEL LAWYER: WAYNE COLLINS AND THE DEFENSE OF JAPANESE AMERICAN RIGHTS By Charles Wollenberg (Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday Books, 2018, 160 pp., $20, hardcover) Representing unpopular clients is a lawyer’s highest calling. Yet few heeded that call on behalf of Japanese Americans during World War II. Among these few was Wayne Collins, who represented thousands of […]

A plant lover’s delight

THE BERKELEY BOWL COOKBOOK: RECIPES INSPIRED BY THE EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCE OF CALIFORNIA’S MOST ICONIC MARKET By Laura McLively (Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 2018, 216 pp., $34.95, hardcover) It all started with an African horned melon. This peculiar orange fruit captured the interest of Laura McLively during a shopping trip to Berkeley Bowl, the revered East […]

The irony of Nikkei citizenship during mass incarceration

CITIZEN INTERNEES: A SECOND LOOK AT RACE AND CITIZENSHIP IN JAPANESE AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS By Linda L. Ivey and Kevin W. Kaatz (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2017, 277 pp., $48 hardcover) Each spring semester, my wife, a professor in the online Information School at San José State University, team-teaches a course entitled “History of the […]

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