In Search of Hiroshi (book)
Creators: Gene Oishi
Book cover. Courtesy of Charles E. Tuttle
View in the Densho Encyclopedia
Memoir by Nisei journalist Gene Oishi published by Charles E. Tuttle in 1988.
Oishi was born in Guadalupe, California, in 1933, the youngest of eight children in a relatively prosperous farm family. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor, his father, Seiji, is arrested and taken away to an internment camp. The rest of the family is forcibly removed to the Tulare Assembly Center and to the Gila River , Arizona, concentration camp. Incarceration splinters the family, as Gene's Kibei brother and brother-in-law clash with two other staunchly patriotic brothers. Before long, the two Kibei have been taken to the War Relocation Authority prisons at Moab, Utah and Leupp, Arizona , two brothers end up in the army, and a sister leaves camp to go to college in Minnesota. An adolescent Gene returns with his parents to Guadalupe after the war, where they are reduced to being farm laborers after having lost everything during the war. The family later settles in San Pedro, California, where one of Gene's brothers runs a store.
The rest of the book covers Oishi's adulthood and career: his embrace of music, particularly jazz, as a young man; a stint in the army, spent mostly playing in an army band in France; his courtship and eventual marriage to a French woman over the objections of both families; his career as a journalist mostly for the Baltimore Sun ; and a trip to Japan with his parents and meeting Japanese relatives. The last chapters center on his attempts to write about Japanese Americans and on the impact wartime incarceration had on him and other Nisei. He began an autobiographical novel in 1965 and wrote two newspaper pieces in the 1960 in which he found it easier to write about himself in the third person, as a character named "Hiroshi." He frames the memoir as an attempt to "clear away the fear and confusion that have attended my search for Hiroshi."
In 2014, Oishi published Fox Drum Bebop , an autobiographical novel whose protagonist is named "Hiroshi."