All posts by Frank Abe

FRANK ABE is co-author of the new graphic novel on Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration, WE HEREBY REFUSE (Chin Music Press: A Wing Luke Museum Book). He won an American Book Award for JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press), and made the award-winning PBS documentary, CONSCIENCE AND THE CONSTITUTION, on the largest organized camp resistance. He is currently co-editing an anthology for Penguin Classics on The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration.

Coming in 2023: The John Okada Centennial Year

John Okada © Yoshito Okada family
John Okada’s high school graduation portrait
© Yoshito Okada family

Novelist John Okada would have been 98 years old today. This means that two years from today, we will be observing the 100th anniversary of his birth. 

To celebrate his legacy and honor his work in writing the great Japanese American wartime novel, a number of institutional partners are being recruited for a series of events to observe 2023 as the John Okada Centennial Year in his native city of Seattle. 

As established in our recent biography, John Okada,  most publications and even his gravestone cite a different date for Okada’s birth (September 23), but this is an error evidently made by his widow in the disarray following his unexpected death in 1971. His birth certificate recorded by the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health clearly states he was delivered at the family’s Merchants Hotel in Pioneer Square by midwife Sumi Tajiri on September 22, 1923, and that is the date he gave throughout his life on all his school, camp, military, and job records.

September 22, 2023. Save the date. 

The descendants of “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

Our graphic novel We Hereby Refuse weaves together the stories of three Nisei who refused to submit to imprisonment in American concentration camps without a fight. On Sept. 18 we got to meet three of  their children and hear what they think about the book.

Continue reading The descendants of “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

First preview of our forthcoming anthology of camp literature

For three years, Floyd Cheung of Smith College and I have been gathering pieces and building the outline for a new anthology of camp literature commissioned by the publisher of Penguin Classics. On Sunday I presented a preview of our work on translations of Issei writing in camp in Japanese, part of what the late Yuji Ichioka called “our buried past.” This video screen is cued to the start of that discussion:

Continue reading First preview of our forthcoming anthology of camp literature

“Western Washington Gets Real” about “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

It’s not often a book gets four minutes of TV coverage, so check out this feature that aired tonight on KIRO7 News in Seattle by clicking on the image.

KIRO-TV news set Continue reading “Western Washington Gets Real” about “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

Postwar resettlement of Japanese Americans in Chicago explored in new mystery

Virtual Conversations for Clark and Division There was no reason on earth for me to have been born in Cleveland, Ohio, other than the policy of the War Relocation Authority to disperse families released from camp to cities in the East and Midwest.

That’s the untapped history explored by  Edgar Award-winning mystery novelist Naomi Hirahara in her groundbreaking new book CLARK AND DIVISION, centered on the postwar resettlement of Japanese Americans in Chicago. We had a delightful virtual conversation for the Elliott Bay Book Company on August 16:

Continue reading Postwar resettlement of Japanese Americans in Chicago explored in new mystery

“Seattle Now & Then” at King Street Station

“Seattle Now & Then” is a long-time fixture of Seattle media created by historian and photographer Paul Dorpat in 1982. The column is now produced by historian and photographer Jean Sherrard, who published the feature below on our graphic novel in the Seattle Times, online on August 5, 2021, and in the Pacific NW Magazine of the print Times on August 8, 2021. Jean also posted a 12-minute audio interview with Frank Abe on YouTube, shared below.

Pacific Northwest Magazine spread in print Continue reading “Seattle Now & Then” at King Street Station

Second printing ordered for “We Hereby Refuse”

This is a good news/bad news kind of post. The good news is that We Hereby Refuse has found its audience and flown off the shelves and out of the warehouses. Our first printing of 3,000 has sold out in just three weeks, and our publisher Chin Music Press has ordered a second printing of 3,000. Our title has held at #1 in various niche categories on Amazon. Amazon book listing

“WE HEREBY REFUSE” published today

The day has arrived. It’s been a long journey, but it’s finally May 18, the publication date for We Hereby Refuse.

Bruce Rutledge
Publisher Bruce Rutledge unpacking the first copies of our book.

More than 1,100 books were shipped from the distributor by last Friday, Pre-orders are reportedly still working their way through the distribution chains at and Amazon and may take a few more days to arrive in mailboxes. Continue reading “WE HEREBY REFUSE” published today

Mitsuye Endo is focus of first newspaper feature on “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

Two of the three main characters of We Hereby Refuse were born in Sacramento, so it’s fitting that the first news coverage of the book’s publication should come in their hometown paper.   Continue reading Mitsuye Endo is focus of first newspaper feature on “WE HEREBY REFUSE”