Swimming in the American: A Memoir and Selected Writings (book)
Creators: Kashiwagi, Hiroshi
Memoir by Nisei playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi (1922–2019) told in short prose vignettes, poetry and a play.
In the preface, Kashiwagi writes that the book "is not a straight narrative because it is a collection of vignettes that highlight certain events and moments in my life." About half of the book covers the prewar years, spent mostly in rural Loomis, California, where Kashiwagi's family ran a store and later farmed. The short pieces cover such various aspects of growing up as a Nisei eldest son, including his early responsibilities as a family translator, the family's tenuous economic existence, and relationships with friends and colleagues who come in and out of his life. The second half of the book covers his postwar life as a father, librarian, and playwright/actor. While most of the vignettes are short prose pieces, many poems and family photographs are also included. The various components tell a largely chronological story of his life.
Swimming in the American largely skips over the details of Kashiwagi's wartime incarceration, though the experience is referred to here and there throughout the book. The postwar section of the book includes his testimony before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1981, his lengthy poem "A Meeting at Tule Lake" written for the 1975 Tule Lake Pilgrimage, and a tribute to lawyer Wayne M. Collins who helped Kashiwagi and thousands of other renunciants avoid deportation and eventually regain U.S citizenship. The last fifty pages of the book consists of Kashiwagi's 1990 play " The Betrayed ," which is partially set in Tule Lake .
In October 2005, the Before Columbus Foundation named Swimming in the American as one of thirteen recipients of the American Book Award. "This is my life," said Kashiwagi in response to the award. "I don't feel it's been a difficult life, but people say it has been from reading the book. Somehow I've made it through."
Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration
This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .
|Awards||<a class="external text" href="http://www.bookweb.org/btw/awards/The-American-Book-Awards---Before-Columbus-Foundation.html" rel="nofollow">American Book Award</a>, 2005|
For More Information
Kashiwagi, Hiroshi. Swimming in the American: A Memoir and Selected Writings . San Mateo, Calif.: Asian American Curriculum Project, 2005.