See video of Seattle book launch for “JOHN OKADA”

The Seattle book launch for JOHN OKADA was a fun one, thanks to the 85 people who joined us to celebrate the legacy of the Seattle novelist and help launch our new book on his life and unknown works.

speakers on panel

Shawn WongThis was a special event, on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of Okada’s birth in Pioneer Square, held on the site where he got his professional start as a reference librarian at the old Carnegie-era Seattle Central Library.

Stephen SumidaFrank AbeKaren Maeda Allman of the Elliott Bay Book Company was on hand to introduce the afternoon and sell books afterward. Tom Ikeda introduced the speakers by sharing his own story of being introduced to the novel while a student at Franklin High in Seattle.

Novelist Shawn Wong, who contributed the chapter, “Republishing and Teaching No-No Boy,” told of the place of No-No in the emergence of the then-new field of Asian American studies. Prof. emeritus Stephen Sumida, who contributed the chapter, “Questioning No-No Boy: Text, Contexts, and Subtexts,” outlined his findings from a 40-year career of teaching the novel, and even broke out his actor’s voice in telling the folk tales of Momotaro and Urashima Taro that Okada subtly weaved into his story.
from left: Roy Okada, his wife Mary, John Okada's niece Cathy Okada, Frank Abe, and Okada's niece Pam Okada Grubbs

As special guests, we were honored to be joined by John’s younger brother Roy, his wife Mary and their daughter Pam Grubbs, and Cathy Okada, the daughter of Yoshitaka Robert and Jane Okada, and John’s niece. It was the patience and grace of the Okada family that helped make the biography of John possible. 

Thanks to Stesha Brandon and Karen Maeda Allman for making this event happen in such a great space, and our editors and staff from the University of Washington Press to come listen: Larin McLaughlin, Mike Baccam, Mike Campbell, and Beth Fuget.

Thanks also to Emily P. Lawsin, David Nguyen, Mike Baccam for sharing their photos above. The TV lighting came from the Seattle Channel, our municipal cable station, which recorded the entire one-hour, 20-minute program for you to watch here.

Seattle Public Library logoThe Seattle Public Library also recorded the event for an audio podcast, which you can download here for listening [mp3 file size: 38.86MB, play time: 1 hr 24 min].

Speaking of audio, you can listen to the 13-minute radio conversation with Shawn Wong and myself with our good friend Bill Radke, host of “The Record,” weekdays at noon on KUOW 94.9 FM, the NPR station in Seattle. And below is the display ad that ran in The Seattle Times, courtesy of a great partnership between the Times and the Seattle Public Library Foundation to promote literacy.Seattle Times display ad

 

 

“Resistance, Resettlement, and Redress”

Frank Abe at podiumI’m no lawyer, but I could not say no when the Case Western Reserve Law Review asked for a piece based on our EO9066 panel last November.

The symposium offered me the opportunity to revisit the McDonald Maternity Hospital in Cleveland where I was born, just a block from the Western Reserve campus, and explore my own pre-history of the postwar resettlement of my father out of Heart Mountain and into the Midwest. Continue reading “Resistance, Resettlement, and Redress”

The first reviews are in for “JOHN OKADA”

Two early reviews, a podcast, and a Facebook Live video. First, thanks go to Edgar-Award winning novelist Naomi Hirahara for taking the time to comment on our book.

cover of Nichi Bei Times Nikkei literary pioneer re-examined reviewed by Naomi Hirahara, Nichi Bei Weekly, July 19. 2018

It’s an extremely readable book, a must-have companion piece to Okada’s novel … Abe, who lives in Okada’s early stomping grounds of Seattle, wrote the precise, well-researched 100-page biography of the author.

It was an honor to be recommended by Jeff Fleischer at “Foreword Reviews.” a journal for the independent book trade that is dedicated to the “art” of book reviewing. “Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love,” they say, and they cater to independent bookstores; the small press buying department at Barnes & Noble; the small press buyers at Costco; and librarian subscribers including those in LA, San Francisco, New York, Dallas, Denver, Chicago, and Detroit.  

screencap of Foreword ReviewJohn Okada,” reviewed by Jeff Fleischer, Foreward Reviews magazine, summer 2018

The book begins with a detailed biography of the author by Frank Abe … This is a strong compilation, mixing Okada’s writing with copious analysis of it, and telling a story of his life that both echoes and informs his best-known work.”

Podcast fans can hear the story of how Frank Chin, Shawn Wong, Lawson Inada, and Jeff Chan first rediscovered and republished No-No Boy, and how that set us on the four-decades-long journey in search of John Okada. I had a fun conversation with Stephanie Bastek at The American Scholar, a quarterly journal of literature, science and culture published for a general readership since 1932. “Who saved the book—and what was lost—is a story fit for legend. Listen to Frank Abe—who was there!—tell the tale on our podcast.” 

No-No Novel

Finally,  here is the saved Facebook Live video of my Aug. 8 performance at Hing Hay Park in Seattle Chinatown for the Wing Luke Asian Museum’s “It Happened Here” series — weaving together the real events from the life of John Okada with the imagined world of postwar Seattle in No-No Boy. Thanks to all who came out to listen on a hot day at the heart of Maynard and King, where so many of the events in the novel collide.

Lawsuit filed to block transfer of Tule Lake Segregation Center land

UPDATE: On August 27, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied, without prejudice, the Tule Lake Committee’s motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).  The order allows the Tule Lake Committee to file a renewed motion for
a TRO, which the Tule Lake Committee is preparing to file, and directs additional support on particular issues, according to a TLC news release, which added:

Continue reading Lawsuit filed to block transfer of Tule Lake Segregation Center land

Celebrations of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga and James Omura

Journalist Jimmie Omura’s “Return to the Wars” Diary Available at SuyamaProject.org Website

James Omura on book coverAn edited and annotated version of James Omura’s redress diary is now available at SuyamaProject.org, a website sponsored by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, which aims to preserve the history of Japanese American resistance during World War II, including but not limited to the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team draftees, draft resisters, No Nos, renunciants, and other Nikkei dissidents. Continue reading Celebrations of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga and James Omura

In Memoriam: Yosh Kuromiya, the man who drew the line

Yosh Kuromiya

The last major Nisei figure interviewed in our film is gone. We are mourning the loss of Heart Mountain resister Yosh Kuromiya at the age of 95. Continue reading In Memoriam: Yosh Kuromiya, the man who drew the line

“JOHN OKADA” and graphic novel presentations at Tule Lake and Minidoka

graphic novel presentation at Tule Lake PilgrimageTule Lake and Minidoka were two very different experiences for inmates, as I discovered after spending a week on the road at each of their camp pilgrimages.  But one thing stayed the same, and that was the warm reception given to our dual presentations on both JOHN OKADA and our graphic novel on camp resistance with the working title, We Hereby Refuse. Continue reading “JOHN OKADA” and graphic novel presentations at Tule Lake and Minidoka

Family separations nothing new for Japanese Americans

John Okada at desk in New York City, 1949As documented in our new book, JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy, the Japanese American experience was in some ways the reverse of this week’s child separations on the southern border. In our case it was the fathers — harmless men like the fathers of both John Okada and Jim Akutsu — who were ripped from their children and wives in Seattle on Feb. 21, 1942, locked up in the Immigration Detention Center on Airport Way, and then paraded out at King Street Station the morning of March 19, 1942, and put on a train for the Justice Department alien internment camp at Fort Missoula, Montana. Their children and wives reached through an iron fence and screamed out to the men in English and Japanese, not knowing if they would ever see them again.

I shared this story yesterday with this five-minute interview with the BBC World Service that aired in London and worldwide on June 20.

Continue reading Family separations nothing new for Japanese Americans

The “Drunk History” of the Fair Play Committee

We’ll have whatever Randall Park is drinking! “Drunk History” is a weekly, half-hour series on Comedy Central where historical reenactments by A-list talent are presented by inebriated storytellers.

On June 19, tune in for a wild and woozy retelling of the resistance of Frank Emi and the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. Now millions will know the name of the FPC and its battle cry: “No more shikataganai!”

Continue reading The “Drunk History” of the Fair Play Committee

Read an outtake chapter from the forthcoming “John Okada”

JOHN OKADA book spinesAdvance copies of JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy arrived in the mail this week, and the books are a joy to hold. The covers feel good in the hand, with the same texture as the 2014 paperback edition of No-No Boy itself.  I’ll be lugging dozens of copies on the bus to the upcoming Tule Lake and Minidoka Pilgrimages for the booksellers there. If you’re also going, please signal your attendance at these Facebook Events for our Tule Lake workshop, “No-No Boys, John Okada, and the Kibei Resistance at Tule Lake,” with Martha Nakagawa and Takako Day on July 1, or at the Minidoka panel, “John Okada, No-No Boy, and the Draft Resistance at Minidoka, on July 6.

Discover Nikkei logoIn advance of our imminent publication, which is now slated for July 13,  co-editor Greg Robinson has just posted a treat for you — an outtake from our book, something we really tried to get in but could not fit into our maximum page count. It’s a look at how No-No Boy was originally received in 1957, titled “First Impressions: Early Reviews of John Okada’s No-No Boy.”  The article appears on the Discover Nikkei blog, and we’ve provided links to the texts of all the 1957 reviews cited by Greg here on this blog. Continue reading Read an outtake chapter from the forthcoming “John Okada”

RESISTERS.COM – The literature and history of Japanese American resistance to incarceration

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