Original review of the 1957 publication of No-No Boy

Jubilee: a monthly magazine of the Catholic Church
September, 1957

by Alan Yamada

The most exciting entry of the new Tuttle list is NO-NO- BOY, by John Okada ($3.00), a toughly written novel of a young Japanese-American who choose to spend World War II in prison rather than serve in the U.S. Army as did many of his friends.

Though the time span covers only a few months in this man’s life following his return to his home in Seattle, what comes through is the tension and suffering, during the whole wartime period, of the Japanese-American community, especially on the West Coast.  Not only did its members bear the hatred of white Americans, but they were taken away from homes, farms and jobs to be herded together in relocation camps by the government. It was this federal policy that turned many of the young people away from America.

Okada writes with the raw fury of James T. Farrell about his angry group of “Japs” and “Americans” and the tensions they experience among whites, Chinese-Americans and Negroes. Though his writing is often awkward and confused, you know that these are real people who fill his novel and that they have something to say about the way life has treated them.

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration

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