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Browse > Genre > Historical Fiction

62 articles

Eyes of the Emperor (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 6-8
  • Historical Fiction, Young Adult
  • Evils of racism, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Self-preservation, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Historical novel aimed at middle school readers based on the true story of Nisei solders from Hawai'i who were made to serve as "bait" in a program that attempted to train dogs to recognize and attack the supposed distinctive smell of "Japanese" during World War II.

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Fox Drum Bebop (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Power of words
  • Widely available

Novel by Gene Oishi that tells the saga of the Konos, a Japanese American farming family from coastal California, covering the years 1940 to 1982. Largely based on the author's own life and family, each chapter is a stand alone short story set in a particular time period. Early chapters covering the prewar years and the upheavals of World War II are told from the perspective of different family members, while later chapters covering the postwar years are largely through the perspective of Hiroshi, the character based on the author. Fox Drum Bebop was published by Kaya Press in 2014 and received the 2016 Association for Asian American Studies book award in the Creative Writing: Prose category.

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Gardens of Hope (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Companionship as salvation, Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Loss of innocence, Self-awareness
  • Widely available

Novel about the short but life changing romance between a young white man and a Nisei man during World War II. The story begins in 2004, as the elderly Jack Henry asks his nephew to drive him to the Manzanar National Historic Site. On the way, he tells the nephew the story of his connection to the place. As the story begins in Los Angeles the fall of 1942, Jack seems to have everything: a loving family, a smart and attractive fiancée, and good prospects for a career as a teacher. However as a closeted gay man, he is confused and unhappy. Drawn to Pershing Park downtown, he has a series of furtive sexual encounters with other men before meeting Hiro, a handsome young Nisei. Their affair is immediately different and deeper than the others. When the outbreak of war separates them, Jack impulsively decides to become a teacher at ...

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Gambling Den (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Immigrant experience, Loss of innocence, Role of women, Temptation and destruction
  • No availability

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.

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The Legend of Fire Horse Woman (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Female roles, Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Novel by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston published in 2003 that is set in large part in Manzanar.

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Kibei (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Identity crisis
  • Available

The saga of a Kibei Nisei confronting prejudice and his own conflicted identity as his and his family’s lives are irreparably transformed by the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Nasakenai (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story about an Issei couple in the San Francisco Bay area in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both work as servants—the husband as a gardener and the wife as a maid—for prominent white families in a wealthy adjacent community and support three children at home, with a son in the army. After the attack, the husband goes to work and is assured by his employer that she will not fire him despite community pressure to do so. But the wife, who has worked for the family of a prominent lawyer for over a decade, is fired, since the lawyer represents a farming organization that supports anti-Japanese actions. An Issei gardener who works for the same family is also fired. Afterwards, the wife visits briefly with the family of the gardener and goes home to work on her garden, vowing that things will be okay.

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Suitcase Sefton and the American Dream (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Injustice
  • Widely available

Novel by Jay Feldman about a New York Yankees scout who discovers a hot Nisei pitching prospect in an American concentration camp during World War II.

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The Summer of '43 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story centering on Akira Koyama, a Nisei man who has left an unspecified concentration camp to attend college in Utah. There, he stubbornly tries to find a summer job in the face of rampant discrimination. After being turned down for a draftsman position because of his ancestry, he visits a laundry owned by an acquaintance's family in search of other leads. Meanwhile, Dale, a white navy veteran and one of his college roommates, suffers from stomach pains that resemble appendicitis. Akira accompanies him to the hospital and waits as Dale has successful surgery. After a conversation with the doctor, Akira is offered a job at the hospital.

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The Harvest of Hate (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Loss of innocence, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Novel focusing on one Japanese American family's forced removal and incarceration written by a former teacher at Poston. Originally written in 1946, The Harvest of Hate first saw publication forty years later.

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The Issei Prisoners of the San Pedro Internment Center (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Injustice, Losing hope, Power and corruption, Will to survive
  • Available

Novel by Stanley N. Kanzaki about Issei internees at the fictional San Pedro Internment Camp in New Mexico.

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Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Individual versus society
  • Available

Novel by Edward Miyakawa set in the eponymous concentration camp. Tule Lake was likely the first novel by a Japanese American set in one of the World War II concentration camps to be published when it first appeared in 1979. It was also notable for its unflinching portrayal of life in the most repressive of the camps.

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