Arts & Entertainment

Nisei is propelled to share firsthand accounts of camp

BLINDSIDED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SAM MIHARA By Sam Mihara, as told to Alexander Villarreal (Self-published, 2019, 2nd Ed., 121 pp., $20, paperback) In 2019, Paramount released the biopic feature film on British rock singer Elton John entitled “Rocketman.” Sam Mihara’s slender and well-written autobiographical book, “Blindsided,” also showcases the life of a rocket […]

Read this with furikake popcorn

Sansei and Sensibility By Karen Tei Yamashita (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2020, 232 pp., $16.95, paperback) During the pandemic, I’ve been listening to readings of various Jane Austen novels on Spotify. They are familiar and comforting, there’s no earth-shattering action, merely the twists and turns of domestic life, the relationship within families and romantic courtship. […]

A life’s work

The Journey Continues By Peter Yamamoto (San Francisco: National Japanese American Historical Society, 271 pp., $10.95, paperback) Peter Kenichi Yamamoto’s book of poetry, “The Journey Continues” (2020), marks the culmination of the life-labor of a poet and activist who dedicated his creative talents and generous spirit toward the betterment of his community and world. Published […]

On the Internet’s gender divide

Invisibility by Design: Women and Labor in Japan’s Digital Economy By Gabriella Lukács (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2020, 248 pp., $25.95, paperback) While it is too soon for a definitive history of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, even a small-scale analysis of their effects can prime us for future studies of […]

Karen Tei Yamashita’s invisible planet

Karen Tei Yamashita: Fictions of Magic and Memory Edited By A. Robert Lee (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018, 216 pp., $72, hard cover) On the multi-tiered bookshelf that my father made for me decades ago, I have a weathered plain green advanced reading copy of Karen Tei Yamashita’s “Through the Arc of the Rain […]

Historian connects the links

Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad By Gordon H. Chang (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020, 320 pp., $16.99, paperback) One great treat amid the latest crop of historical books on Asian Americans is Gordon H. Chang’s “Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese […]

A seminal and mesmerizing collection

The Swamp By Yoshiharu Tsuge (Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2020, 256 pp., $24.95, hard cover) I first got an inkling that Montreal, Quebec publisher Drawn and Quarterly was releasing exciting new work by Asian Americans with the 2018 release of Rina Ayuyang’s “Blame This on the Boogie,” building on a list that included English translations/reprints […]

Getting to know Japan’s weird side

Tokyo Geek’s Guide: Manga, Anime, Gaming, Cosplay, Toys, Idols & More By Gianni Simone (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2017, 144 pp., $16.95, paperback) In the past two decades Japanese anime, manga, and gaming has gained worldwide popularity. This otaku culture has seeped into the mainstream and can be glimpsed all around Japan. “Tokyo Geek’s […]

Yes, I can

Sumo Joe By Mia Wenjen, illustrated by Nat Iwata (New York: Lee & Low Books, 2019, 40 pp., $18.95, hard cover) This is a quick, fun look at a young girl, Aikido Jo, who wants to join the “boy only place” where her brother Sumo Joe and his friends are wrestling. She challenges her brother […]

Before camp

A SCARF FOR KEIKO By Ann Malaspina; illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2019, 32 pp., $7.99, paperback) In this story, a young Jewish boy, Sam, fights conflicting feelings about his Japanese American classmate, Keiko, because of the raging war and the anti-Japanese sentiment pervasive in the community. He ignores Keiko because of another classmate […]

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