‘Respectable’ biography on Norman Mineta falls short of potential

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II By Andrea Warren (New York: Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, 2019, 224 pp., $22.99, hardcover) When I was in elementary school, I was introduced to the American Revolution through the biography of Johnny Tremain, which may […]

Willow finds her way

PILU OF THE WOODS Written and illustrated by Mai K. Nguyen (Portland, Ore.: Oni Press, 2019, 160 pp., $12.99, paperback) “Pilu of the Woods” is a charming book featuring both a profound message that children will be able to resonate with, and simplistic yet colorful visuals. The plot mostly follows the actions of a girl […]

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 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 […]

Queering the inquiry of Asian American art

QUEERING CONTEMPORARY ASIAN AMERICAN ART Edited By Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017, 296 pp., $90 hardcover; $40 paperback) This anthology grows out of a National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored Summer Institute held at New York University in 2012, co-directed by Margo Machida and Alexandra Chang and entitled, “Re-Envisioning […]

Reconceptualizing the narrative of American art

THE OTHER AMERICAN MODERNS: MATSURA, ISHIGAKI, NODA, HAYAKAWA By ShiPu Wang (University Park, Penn: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017, 196 pp., $69.95, hard cover) I have always been intrigued by the titles authors select to represent their books, and most especially if they are as deftly apt as that ShiPu Wang has devised for the […]

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