Choice Reviews: Association of College & Research Libraries


Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
June 2019, Vol. 56, Issue 10, p. 1243-1243

reviewed by Yuan Shu, Texas Tech Universitiy

Combining an extensive biographical treatment of Okada (1923–71), recovered works by Okada, and critical essays, John Okada offers an innovative introduction to the Japanese American author.

The volume is divided into three sections: “The Life of John Okada,” “Unknown Works by John Okada” (poetry, drama, short fiction, and technical writing), and “Essays on John Okada and His Writings.” These are followed by a response poem, “Nightsong in Asian America,” written by Lawson Fusao Inada shortly after Okada’s death, and an afterword.

Abe provides the introductory material, which not only situates Okada’s oeuvre in the context of WW II and postwar US culture and society, but also seeks to claim a Japanese American literary vision and tradition.

The recovered texts by Okada himself reflect the anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty of a Nisei entrapped in the historical drama.

The contributors of the six critical essays—among them Cheung, Stephen Sumida, and Shawn Wong—are all leading scholars in Asian American studies. Wong in particular is noteworthy: as one of the “founding fathers” of Asian American literature, he articulates Okada’s literary ambition and achievements in the context of the Asian American movement.

In the afterword Abe reflects on the implication of Okada’s work for Muslim Americans caught in similar situations in the war on terror.

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration