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.
This 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.
Karen 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.
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.
The 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.