A visionary’s life intertwined with art

Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa By Marilyn Chase (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2020, 224 pp., $29.95, hard cover) Ruth Aiko Asawa, one of the most original and prolific artists of the American 20th century, left behind a stunning legacy when she died at age 87 in 2013. “Everything She Touched: The Life […]

Precious moments

OJIICHAN’S GIFT Written by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Genevieve Simms (Boston: Kids Can Press, 2019, 32 pp., $16.99, hard cover) For those of us who are lucky enough to have an ojiichan (grandfather) or memories of one, this is a sentimental story. Young Mayumi recalls past summer visits with her grandfather halfway around the world […]

The ABCs of cooking California-style Japanese food

Japanese Cookbook for Beginners: Classic and Modern Recipes Made Easy By Azusa Oda (Emeryville, Calif.: Rockridge Press, 2020, 146 pp., $16.99, paperback) With “Japanese Cookbook for Beginners: Classic and Modern Recipes Made Easy,” genius home cook and designer Azusa Oda has embraced the traditional Japanese flavors and dishes that she grew up with and recalibrated […]

A ‘dissatisfied’ artist’s life

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist By Adrian Tomine (Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2020, 168 pp., $29.95, hard cover) Cartoonist Adrian Tomine started writing, drawing and self-publishing his mini-comic, “Optic Nerve,” when he was still a teenager. Despite the odds, this fourth-generation Japanese American (his parents, who divorced when he was 2, are retired professor […]

The ins and outs of redress

REDRESS: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN FOR JAPANESE AMERICAN REPARATIONS By John Tateishi (Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday, 2020, 384 pp., $28, hard cover) The topic of the Japanese American Redress Movement has been abundantly rewarded by its parade of prominent chroniclers. Those authored or edited volumes which I have been privileged to read, and […]

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 […]

Bridging historical traditions

IN SEARCH OF OUR FRONTIER: JAPANESE AMERICA AND SETTLER COLONIALISM IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF JAPAN’S BORDERLESS EMPIRE By Eiichiro Azuma (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2019, 368 pp., $75, hard cover) In recent years historians have increasingly moved away from writing about the history of a single nation state, so-called mononational history, to writing […]

DISSENT: During COVID-19, showing solidarity is even more important

We are in a frightening time. Some 135,235 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an untold number are battling infections. Meanwhile, the rest of us must protect ourselves whenever we venture out in public — not just from the virus, but also from […]

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 […]

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. […]

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