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Gambling Den (short story)

Creators: Akemi Kikumura


Short story by Akemi Kikumura about a Japanese American family in Lodi, California, on the eve of World War II. Told in the first person voice of fifteen-year-old Peggy Tanaka, the story begins with the Tanaka family's fateful purchase of a restaurant in 1941. The restaurant soon becomes a success as migrant workers are drawn to both Mrs. Tanaka's cooking and the beauty of Ann, Peggy's eighteen-year-old sister. Mr. Tanaka's decision to open a gambling den in back further adds to profits, despite Mrs. Tanaka's disapproval and the necessary kick-backs to a corrupt local policeman. But the Tanakas' lives are soon to be complicated by Ann's romance with a young man of burakumin (Japanese outcaste) origin, a conniving neighbor, and the impending roundup of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Gambling Den first appeared in the 1979 holiday edition of the Rafu Shimpo newspaper. Kikumura, an anthropologist, curator, playwright, actress and former CEO of the Japanese American National Museum , was born in the Rohwer , Arkansas, concentration camp and grew up in part in Lodi, where her father had run a restaurant prior to the war. In her acclaimed anthropological study of her mother's life, Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant Woman (1981), she used the pseudonymous name "Tanaka" as the family name. She later adapted Gambling Den into a play for which she won the Ruby Yoshino Schaar Playwright Award; it was produced by East West Players in Los Angeles in 1986–87 and Northwest Asian American Theater in Seattle in 1988–89. [1]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like " Las Vegas Charley " by Hisaye Yamamoto; " Otoko " by Wakako Yamauchi; " Rosebud " by Wakako Yamauchi

Footnotes

  1. Akemi Kikumura, Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant Woman (Novato, Calif.: Chandler and Sharp Publishers, 1981); Roberta Uno, Unbroken Thread: An Anthology of Plays by Asian American Women (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press,1993), 319.
Media Details
DATABOX BOOKS TEMPLATE "rg/databox-Articles.html"
Author Akemi Kikumura
Publication Date 1979
For More Information

For More Information

Kikumura, Akemi. "Gambling Den." Rafu Shimpo , Dec. 20, 1979, 12, 20, 31–33, 37.