“JOHN OKADA” book launch at Asian American Studies conference

Greg speakingMany thanks to all the students and scholars who came to our book launch for JOHN OKADA at the Association for Asian American Studies conference at San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel — whether to our panel on Saturday morning in the Grand Ballroom, or visiting the University of Washington Press table in the exhibit hall.

Greg Robinson opened our panel by reading the paper authored by contributor Jeff Yamashita reviewing two generations of critical literature on No-No Boy. Jeff was regrettably called away at the last minute
Frank at podium and unable to speak in person. I presented the life and rediscovered works of John Okada, with the help of 40-plus photographs, only a few of which appear in the book. Floyd Cheung spoke about Okada’s studies in creative writing with Professor Grant Redford at the University of Washington after coming back from the war, showing how Okada experimented with various storytelling devices in his five long-unseen short stories and how he later deployed those devices in No-No Boy. We then pulled the chairs into a panel roundtablecircle for a roundtable discussion of how we discovered the new Okada material, and other literary influences that might have gone into No-No Boy.

book editors holding bookAt the UW Press table, editor-in-chief Larin McLaughlin and assistant editor Mike Baccam talked up the book to everyone who stopped by. Our production editor Margaret Sullivan worked furiously over the last several weeks to produce the bound galleys that Larin Frank holding bookand Mike were pleased to bring to the conference. As Greg observed, no matter how many times he’s published, there’s nothing like the moment of finally holding a new book in one’s hand. We hope to have the finished books ready to ship in time for the Tule Lake and Minidoka Pilgrimages this summer. You can still preorder the book and get the conference special of 30 percent off and free domestic shipping, with the presale code of W812.  

The #AAAS2018 conference marks the start of a long journey over the next year to share our new research with the community, with a stop already planned for #AAAS2019 in Madison, Wisconsin and possibly the nearby Chicago area. See you on the road.

Pre-publication book events for “JOHN OKADA”

John Okada at desk in New York City, 1949The pages have been proofed, the index has been complied, and our book presenting new information on the life and unknown works of novelist John Okada is set to go to press in a few short weeks. But before you get a chance in July to see what’s inside, we are previewing the book at four upcoming special events this spring and summer.

JOHN OKADA is being launched with the academic community this weekend at the Association for Asian American Studies conference at the Westin St. Francis Hotel on San Francisco’s Union Square. The University of Washington Press is supporting us with the presence of editor-in-chief Larin McLaughlin and assistant editor Mike Baccam. They’ll have flyers at the Association for Asian American Studies logoUW Press table in the exhibit hall offering a conference special 30 percent discount with free shipping on preorders (hint for blog readers: use this new presale code of W812 when using the ordering page).

Conferees, please get an early start on your Saturday morning by joining co-editor Floyd Cheung, contributor Jeffrey Yamashita, and myself at 8:00 am in the Ascot Room for our panel on “The Life and Rediscovered Work of John Okada.” Co-editor Greg Robinson will moderate.  I will present the new information from my biography of Okada, supported with a gallery of images drawn from the author’s life. Cheung will investigate the influence of Okada’s college writing instructor on the creation of several previously unknown short stories which show the young writer experimenting with genre a decade before No-No Boy. And Yamashita will review two generations of critical literature on No-No Boy, reflecting shifts in approaches by the academic community. It’s Panel S-12 in your program.

The hotel on Union Square is a return to the place where this “search for John Okada” started for me forty-five years ago. It’s a block from the Geary Theater and the American Conservatory Theater, which sponsored the Asian American Theater Workshop where I first met Frank Chin and the Combined Asian-American Resources Project and was introduced to Asian American history, Asian American literature, and the then-recent rediscovery of John Okada’s No-No Boy.  It’s where I tried out Ichiro’s spinning interior monologue as a theater audition piece, and was caught  in a photograph that book designer Bob Onodera used to design the cover for the 1976 CARP paperback reprint of No-No Boy.

I’ll return to San Francisco on Friday, May 25 for the 29th annual conference of the American Literature Association, a coalition of societies devoted to the study of American authors.  Session 12-B at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Embaradero Center is titled Okada and Beyond,” and it’s organized by The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS). Chairs for our panel are Christine Kitano of Ithaca College and David Cho of Hope College. David helped us very early in our project with research into reviews and transcriptions of interviews.

At the Tule Lake Pilgrimage from June 29 to July 2, we will present a a workshop on “No-No Boys, John Okada, and Reframing the False Constructions of Loyalty at Tule Lake.”  Drawing from the argument in Martha’s chapter for our book, and rejecting old stereotypes, this workshop will break down the false constructions of loyalty and disloyalty created by the government at Tule Lake through registration, segregation, and renunciation. We will examine the life of novelist John Okada, whose novel No-No Boy incorrectly framed the perception of Tule Lake resisters in the public and inside our own community.  Takako Day, author of Show Me the Way to Go Home: The Moral Dilemma of Kibei No-No Boys in World War Two Incarceration Camps, will speak about  Kibei dissenters at Tule Lake whom she interviewed in Japanese. We will also preview the storyline of my forthcoming graphic novel chronicling Japanese American resistance to incarceration, with a special focus on how the book seeks to reframe the registration crisis and renunciation at Tule Lake as expressions of protest and resistance. Moderator Art Hansen will lead a Q and A discussion. He will touch upon his new book, Nisei Naysayer, describe how journalist James Omura initially misunderstood the protest at Tule Lake against the loyalty oath, and compare the resistance at Tule Lake with other examples of dissent covered in his other forthcoming new book, Barbed Voices.

Lastly, for the Minidoka Pilgrimage on July 5-8, I’m Minidoka PIlgrimage logodeveloping a workshop with the working title of “John Okada, No-No Boy, and the Draft Resistance at Minidoka, with a special focus on the many connections between Okada and Minidoka resister Jim Akutsu that inspired the character of Ichiro Yamada in No-No Boy.

Once the book is available in July, we’ll share a schedule of public events now being planned for Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, and perhaps New York. More to come on those. If you’d like to invite one of the co-editors for a book event in your city, please contact us now.

Two National History Day projects draw from “Conscience”

quotations on displayOne of the benefits of putting Resisters.com online is making the story of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and the principled resistance to Japanese American incarceration readily available to students — particularly for National History Day projects. This year our site provided the raw material for two sets of students who selected the story of the Nisei draft resisters and other dissidents to address this year’s topic, “Conflict and Compromise in History.”
Continue reading Two National History Day projects draw from “Conscience”

Events for the 2018 Day of Remembrance

TV viewers in the Pacific Northwest tuning in to the Winter Olympics  this week have been getting an unexpected, 30-second education in America’s wartime incarceration camps, thanks to a personal testimonial I gave for the importance of the work of KING-TV’s  Lori Matsukawa.

Continue reading Events for the 2018 Day of Remembrance

Making February 19 a Day of Resistance

I realize there’s too much to focus on right now, between keeping kids safe from guns, the Russian indictments, and more, but February 19 is coming up. Please join Dale Minami and others in making this Day of Remembrance a Day of Resistance as well by signing this open letter. This is part of a national strategy for Japanese Americans who remember the camps to formally stand with Muslim Americans, led by the one-time coram nobis attorneys who are getting the band back together to file an amicus brief in the names of Korematsu, HIrabayashi, and Yasui as the Supreme Court rules on the Muslim travel ban.

hands cutting barbed wire

Add Your Name to an Open Letter to the Country
Continue reading Making February 19 a Day of Resistance

Nisei Naysayer: announcing the memoir of journalist James Omura

Congratulations to Art Hansen for fulfilling the promise he made to James Omura before Omura’s death in 1994 — to get Jimmie’s memoirs published someday.

It’s taken a quarter-century, but thanks to Art and Stanford University Press you can now see how the journalist who called out JACL in 1942 for “selling Japanese America down the river” was shaped by his beginnings on Bainbridge Island and coming of age in the Pacific Northwest, his early work on Nisei vernaculars in California, and his showdowns with JACL and the US government in San Francisco and Denver.

Frank Chin provides the Foreword, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” Heart Mountain draft resister Yosh Kuromiya provides the Preface, and I was honored to be asked to write the Afterword, entitled “Who Writes History?” Continue reading Nisei Naysayer: announcing the memoir of journalist James Omura

John Okada: His life and unknown work revealed in forthcoming book

UW Press book coverWe’re pleased to announce the publication in July 2018 of a new book  from the University of Washington Press that reveals new information about the life of John Okada and brings to light his unknown works.

Preorder now through the UW Press and use the promo code WST30 to get a 30% discount.

Here’s the synopsis just released by the UW Press on page 8 of its new Spring 2018 catalog. Continue reading John Okada: His life and unknown work revealed in forthcoming book

Save Tule Lake: Send a letter by Oct. 10

graphic by Nathaniel Levine - Sacramento BeeThis graphic in last Monday’s Sacramento Bee says it all: “The proposed fence would encircle the Tulelake Municipal Airport next to the town of Newell,”

The Tule Lake Committee has issued an urgent call to #SaveTuleLake, where more than 24,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II. They are appealing for voices to be heard against the construction of a three-mile-long fence that will close off an airport that sits on two-thirds of the former concentration camp site and which, if built, would permanently close off access to the barracks area where most people lived. A national civil rights site will be irreparably damaged. Continue reading Save Tule Lake: Send a letter by Oct. 10

Hirabayashi jail cell memorialized at King County Courthouse

plaqueSeventy-five years ago, University of Washington student  Gordon Hirabayashi said enough was enough and simply refused to obey an 8pm curfew aimed only at persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. He got himself arrested and was held in a jail cell on the top floor of the King County Courthouse for nine months. He took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading Hirabayashi jail cell memorialized at King County Courthouse

Film mentioned as an #inspirASIAN

graphic image of Frank AbeHumbled and a little embarrassed by this online recognition from the Asian American Journalists Association and friend Lori Matsukawa — but worthwhile if it encourages AAJA members to embrace their role in the newsroom and pitch stories that shine a light on our diverse communities — just as Lori has done so effectively in her position on air. Also worth it if it helps call attention to the film and the story of the Heart Mountain resisters and all the resisters in camp and the courts.
Continue reading Film mentioned as an #inspirASIAN