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Browse > Genre > Fiction

42 articles

Summer of the Big Bachi (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Facing darkness, Greed as downfall, Power of silence, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Mystery novel by Naomi Hirahara that was the first to feature her Kibei hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) gardener protagonist Mas Arai.

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Gasa-Gasa Girl (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Family – blessing or curse, Greed as downfall, Power of the past
  • Widely available

The second mystery novel in Naomi Hirahara's "Mas Arai Mysteries" series, Gasa-Gasa Girl finds the Kibei crime solver in New York where he reconciles with his estranged daughter and unravels the mysterious death of a wealthy Nisei businessman.

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Nurse (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Hazards of passing judgment
  • Available

Short story by Masaharu Hane centering on an Issei man on a train in the Southwest during World War II. Spotting a Nisei young woman fellow passenger—one of the few "Japanese" on the train—sitting next to a white soldier, the narrator passes time on the trip by conjuring various unlikely scenarios that explain her travel circumstances, before learning the rather mundane truth. Originally published in a Poston Japanese language literary publication, "Nurse" was included in the 1991 literary anthology The Big Aiiieeeee!

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A Letter (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Isolation, Power of words
  • Limited availability

Short story by Sasabune Sasaki about a group of Issei internees at an unspecified internment camp in the first days of their detention. Though the men write letters to their families, few have received any letters in return, due to, they believe, delays caused by censorship of the letters and their being moved from camp to camp. One day, the narrator sees a letter in its envelope tacked on a bulletin board at the camp post office and copies it down. It is an anonymously authored letter by a Nisei in English that expresses concern and support for the internees. When the narrator reads it to a group of internees, they are greatly moved.

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The Black Dress (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Companionship as salvation, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Progress – real or illusion
  • Limited availability

Short story about a young woman who has recently left Heart Mountain to resettle in New York City in 1945. Invited to a party by co-workers at a silk screen shop, she decides to buy a new dress for the party. At the department store, she impulsively asks the friendly young female sales clerks to join her for dinner that night. Though she immediately regrets asking, the evening leads to an unexpected revelation.

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21st Century Manzanar (book)

  • Books
  • Adult
  • Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Available

Novel by Perry Miyake that imagines an early 21st century roundup of Japanese Americans and how Sansei and Yonsei would react to it.

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Reunion (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Lost love, Rebirth, Reunion
  • No availability

Short story by Hisaye Yamamoto centering on a Nisei man named Tak who attends a pilgrimage to Poston , where he had been incarcerated during the war. The story begins with his noticing a striking woman at the reunion dressed in buckskin; he wonders if she is Native American. A visit to the memorial at the site conjures memories of his family's wartime experience: removed from Los Angeles, they left Poston to resettle in Chicago ; his older sister had left earlier on her own to study nursing in Cleveland. He went to high school in Chicago and to college back in Los Angeles, eventually marrying and raising three daughters. But after his wife's death just a year prior, he found himself alone. On the bus ride home, he is surprised to find the buckskin woman on the same bus. She sits across the aisle from him, and he overhears …

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Homecoming (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Love and sacrifice, Motherhood, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short story by Toshio Mori about an Issei woman's first visit with her son Mamoru after he has been severely wounded in combat as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team . "Homecoming" takes the form of a story told in the woman's first person voice to her grandchildren. It is one of several stories by Mori featuring the same woman published in the Pacific Citizen between 1949 and 1952 that later became the basis of his novel Woman from Hiroshima , published in 1978. The first half of the story is about her efforts to see her son after being allowed to leave Topaz to return to the West Coast . She is at first dismayed to learn that he has been moved to a military hospital in Auburn, California, known to be a hotbed of anti-Japanese racism. Arriving in Auburn, they see numerous anti-Japanese signs and are …

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Sayonara Slam (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Power of silence, Power of the past, Family – blessing or curse
  • Widely available

The sixth book in Naomi Hirahara's Mas Arai Mysteries series finds the Kibei gardener caught up in unraveling the mysterious death of a Japanese journalist covering the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles. As in the other books in the series, Mas's Hiroshima hibakusha past and the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans play key roles in the plot.

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Heiji (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Female roles, Injustice, Power of the past
  • No availability

Short story by Jeff Tsuyoshi Matsuda about a disheveled elderly Nisei widower who goes to a empty field in his Westchester, California, neighborhood every day for reasons that no one can figure out. In slowly revealing the reason for his quest, Heiji Taguma's wartime family history is revealed. His family had farmed twenty acres in the area before the war, but lost their crops and their farm in the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Heiji's father Masu was among the Issei arrested by the FBI and was taken to the Bismarck , North Dakota internment camp, eventually rejoining his family at Manzanar . But he returned a broken man: while Heiji resettled in Chicago , he refused to leave Manzanar and died there just after the end of the war. Heiji's odd ritual seemed to have been triggered by the death of his wife Keiko, who …

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When the World Winds Down (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Isolation, Lost love
  • Limited availability

Short story by Sharon Hashimoto about a watch repairman who fixes a gold watch brought in by a young man who reminds him of his late brother. Fred Fujita is one of the last remaining Nisei businessmen in the old Japanese section of Seattle. Agreeing to fix the gold watch at the end of one day, he decides to work on it at home, observing that his late wife would have objected to his doing so. While working on the watch, he recalls his brother Jimmy—the night at Heart Mountain when the seventeen-year-old Jimmy tells him he is going to enlist, trying to talk him out of it, and receiving word that he is missing in action.

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Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (book)

  • Books
  • Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Dangers of ignorance, Power of silence, Power of the past
  • Widely available

First novel by acclaimed poet and memoirist David Mura that explores the impact of wartime incarceration—and the silences about it—on a Japanese American family in Chicago after World War II.

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California Generation (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Identity crisis
  • Limited availability

Popular 1970 novel by Jacqueline Briskin that follows a group of students from the class of 1960 at fictitious California High—one of them a Sansei born in Topaz —through the touchstone events of the turbulent decade. Though a first novel, California Generation was widely promoted and launched Briskin's career as a best-selling novelist.

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A Bridge Between Us (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Role of women
  • Widely available

Critically acclaimed 1995 novel by Julie Shigekuni that is both a multi-generational family saga about a Japanese American family in San Francisco and a coming-of-age novel centered on a fifth-generation Japanese American woman growing up in a four generation household. The story—which includes the family's incarceration at Heart Mountain —is told from the perspectives of four women of different generations who live together in the family home in San Francisco.

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The Loom (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Loneliness as destructive force, Motherhood, Power of silence
  • Widely available

Short story by R. A. Sasaki that portrays the life of a Nisei woman looking both backwards and forwards after the death of one of her daughters. Born and raised in San Francisco where her family ran a boarding house, the unnamed woman graduated from the University of California before being incarcerated with her family in Tanforan and Topaz during World War II. Returning to San Francisco after the war having married a Kibei man she had known from before the war, she has four daughters while her husband works in the flower industry. Devoted to her daughters, she is at a loss as they leave the house to pursue their own lives and after one dies in a mountain climbing accident. Her daughters' efforts to bring her out of her torpor are largely unsuccessful until one gives her a loom, through which she is able to express the feelings …

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Slant-Eyed Americans (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Facing darkness, Losing hope
  • Available

Short story by Toshio Mori set in the days after the Pearl Harbor attack . A young Nisei man's plans to take his mother to town that day are dashed by the outbreak of war. The next day, business at the flower market is slow, and the Japanese American merchants wonder about their future. Tom, a Nisei gardener friend, doesn't report to work out of despair over the war; the narrator and his family cheer him up. Later, the narrator's brother Kazuo, who is in the army, arrives home for a five-day furlough. At the end of his visit, the family sees him off, pondering the uncertainty of what is to come.

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Mitsugi's Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness, Love and sacrifice, Optimism – power or folly
  • No availability

Short story by Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida about Mitsugi Yamamoto, an elderly widower at the Keiro Retirement Home in Los Angeles who waits to hear from his busy lawyer daughter and his grandchildren on Christmas Day. Julia, a younger Yonsei volunteer nurse, keeps him company sometimes and listens to his stories of the past, particularly his time at Seabrook Farms, New Jersey , where he and his wife Sumi moved after leaving Manzanar .

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The Shoyu Kid (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Illusion of power, Loss of innocence, Vulnerability of the meek
  • Widely available

Short story by Lonny Kaneko set in Minidoka centering on three boys who chase and bully a fourth boy, in the process unearthing his molestation by a camp guard. The Seattle-based author had been incarcerated at Minidoka as a child. The Shoyu Kid was originally published in Amerasia Journal in 1976.

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8
  • Fiction
  • Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Evils of racism, Lost love
  • Widely available

Bestselling 2009 novel by Jamie Ford about a doomed romance between a young Chinese American boy and a Japanese American girl in 1942 Seattle.

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Makapuu Bay (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Facing reality, Lost love, Names – power and significance, Reunion
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a divorced middle-aged Japanese American writer who goes to a literary conference in Honolulu where she runs into an old boyfriend from the war years. In flashback, we learn that Sachiko—nicknamed "Pinky" while incarcerated in Poston with her father—had met Mitch Ochiai at the camp swimming hole, where she asked him to teach her to swim. They become a couple and continue to see each other when she resettles in Chicago while he attends the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota. But her father's illness—and eventual death—forces her to return to Poston, while Mitch heads off to war, and they lose touch. Sachiko ends up marrying Joe Noda, her block manager, and settling in Los Angeles. Though Sachiko is divorced and Mitch has never married, a rekindling of the romance in Hawai'i is not to be.

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The Long Journey and the Short Ride (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Darkness and light, Motherhood, Optimism – power or folly, Reunion
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about the author and his brother, a paralyzed veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , recalling the latter's visit to Topaz prior to shipping out for combat in Europe. The author and his mother get a pass to leave Topaz for the first time since they had arrived in order to see the brother off at the train station. Their apprehensions about being outside the camp are eased by a white family—who had also just seen a son off to war—who offer them a ride to town. Shifting back to the present of the story, the author notes the successful recovery that his brother has made since the war and both brothers lament that neither of their parents lived to see that recovery. The same incident is the basis for another story Mori had written in 1943 titled " The Travelers ." "The …

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Shirley Temple, Hotcha-cha (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Displacement, Heartbreak of betrayal, Isolation, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a Nisei strandee couple and their difficulties both in wartime Japan and in the resettlement era U.S. Told in the first-person voice of Mie, the story begins in 1939 when Mie is seventeen. As was the case for a sizable minority of Nisei youth, she had been sent to Japan for her education, having arrived there three years prior. She attends a boarding school and spends holidays with the Kodamas, a wealthy childless couple who are family friends. On a holiday, she meets Jobo Endo, a fellow Nisei, who is in Japan attending college. Courtship ensues. Recognizing the difficulties they would face in Japan as the war heats up, Jobo suggests that Mie ask the Kodamas for money to return to the U.S. However, the Kodamas had hoped to marry off Mie to a grand nephew. Though they consent to Jobo and Mie getting …

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The Floating World (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Working class struggles, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

Acclaimed coming-of-age novel largely set on the road centering on Olivia Osaka and her itinerant family in the 1950s.

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Snakeskin Shamisen (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Lost honor, Power of the past
  • Widely available

The third novel in Naomi Hirahara's "Mas Arai Mysteries" series finds the gardener/detective back in Southern California in 2002 where he tackles a murder case in the Okinawan American community.

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Strawberry Yellow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Injustice
  • Widely available

The fifth book in Naomi Hirahara's Mas Arai Mysteries series finds the Kibei gardener back in his hometown of Watsonville for the funeral of a relative. But the apparent murder of an anti-GMO activist and the suggestion by his widow that the deceased relative may have been murdered plunge Mas into another mystery.

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