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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  593 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Bin Okuma, a celebrated visual artist, has recently and quite suddenly lost his wife, Lena. He and his son, Greg, are left to deal with the shock. But Greg has returned to his studies on the East Coast, and Bin finds himself alone and pulled into memories he has avoided for much of his life. In 1942, after Pearl Harbor, his Japanese Canadian family was displaced from the W ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 2nd 2011)
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They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Roméo DallaireVarious Positions by Martha SchabasUnder An Afghan Sky by Mellissa FungShelter by Frances GreensladeRequiem by Frances Itani
Evergreen 2013
5th out of 10 books — 2 voters
An Enemy Among Friends by Kiyoaki MurataCoral Hare by Clive LeeColors of Confinement by Eric L. MullerNisei Daughter by Monica Itoi SoneDesert Exile by Yoshiko Uchida
Books about Japanese-American Internment
30th out of 40 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,394)
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I remember feeling angry when I learned of the internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II. In all my high school and college history classes in the 1960s there was never any mention of this shameful part of American history. And until I heard about Requiem I didn't realize that the Canadians had likewise sent their Japanese Canadian citizens to camps. In doing some follow-up reading, I learned that Ms. Itani's husband lived in one of those camps as a child. She also did extensi ...more
Because I loved "Deafening," I was a bit disappointed in "Requiem." The first half of the book didn't come to life for me, because it seemed that Frances Itani was telling the reader about the Japanese internment in Canada rather than showing the reader what happened. However, about half way through the book, Bin Okuma, a successful artist, and his wife, Lena, came alive for me as Bin goes on a trip back to BC where he and his family were interred during WWII. Since Lena had recently died, the r ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Phoebe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sue, Deborah, Lisa
Bin Okama is a moderately successful Japanese Canadian painter in his late fifties; grieving still over the sudden death of his wife some months earlier, he feels unable to move on with things. He hasn't cleaned out her possessions and he is haunted by a past that he has not yet truly resolved. He makes a trans-Canadian journey by car, with his hound dog Basil, to see the father who gave him up long ago, and to have some closure. As Bin is on his physical pilgrimage, he takes us into his past, t ...more
Requiem by Frances Itani is truly a wonderful book. She is an extraordinary researcher and scholar who has managed to weave historical fact and fiction into a work of art. The story told is about one Japanese-Canadian family caught up in the chaos that was World War 11 during the 1040s. After the attack on pearl Harbor, the Canadian government rounded up the Japanese families living in British Columbia's west coast. Families were allowed to take what possessions they could carry and their homes ...more
There have been a few recent novels about the US and Canadian wartime internment of the Japanese population (I’m thinking of When the Emperor Was Divine , Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet...) and this beautiful book by Frances Itani is an excellent further telling of the story of this shameful period in North American history. The modern day story sees Bin Okuma, a middle-aged Japanese-Canadian artist in Ottawa, deciding to undertake a road trip – accompanied by his dog – to visit the cam ...more
Author: Frances Itani
Published By: Atlantic Monthly Press
Age Recommended: Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Book Blog For: GMTA
Rating: 4

"Requiem" by Frances Itani was wonderful written novel that gives a revealing look into the Japanese internment of the Canadians in British Colombian following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, during World War Two in 1942. This author has weaved this story into past and present with a 'heart felt family story shedding light on a painful period of Canada's history
I enjoyed this book of Atani's much more than Deafening and the reason is that in this one
she takes us into the mind of the main character instead of just telling what he does and what
happens around him. It's the story of a Japanese family yanked from Vancouver Island at the end of the war and moved into the interiour of B.C.. for political reasons. Although we hate this part of our history, I could see the same thing happening again to a faction of society we don't entirely trust. I do like the
In the novel "Requiem," Frances Itani chronicles the internment of a young Canadian-Japanese boy named Bin, and his family; living in a fishing community, his family and their friends are considered threats to the security of the country. Their boats and fishing licenses are taken away, their property looted and sold, they themselves shipped on trains to camps where they are forced to pay for their own imprisonment, building shanties, hauling water, and trying to coax gardens out of the bare gro ...more
A readable book. Covering the life, through flashbacks, of a young Japanese-Canadian boy interred with his family in a Canadian detention camp during WWII. The author has things to say, but takes a lot of effort to get them across. The subject matter is interesting. A story of a split family, A boy lost in where he belongs. Repressed anger, anger not so repressed, and then carrying on in the face of anger and not letting it consume one. The main charector is not necessarily deaf to the world but ...more
For the first time in a long time, I felt somewhat bereft to be nearing the end of a book, so reluctant was I to leave behind the characters, and the beautiful writing of this novel. I have read several books about the interment of Japanese Americans during WWII, but until now I was unaware that Japanese Canadians were dealt this same kind of forced move into camps where they were retained for the duration of the war. This story is told in the voice of Bin Okuma, and moves fluidly between the ye ...more
This wonderful novel by Frances Itani had a big impact on me. Moved, enlightened, angered and up-lifted. So expertly written in a tone that conveys sensitivity and wisdom, the story flows calmly and carefully through the lives of a family of Japanese-Canadians during WW11 and beyond. What the characters experience is heartbreaking. What I learned about the internment of this group of Canadians is heartbreaking. I did know of this point of history but not really anything about it. While fighting ...more
This book is about a Canadian-born Korean-origin artist, recently widowed, travelling cross-country with his basset to visit the internment camp where he spent five years of his childhood. I usually am not fond of "lyrical" language, but in this case, the metaphors are all those an artist would use - very visual. And it taught me a great deal about that period in Canadian history. I mean I'd HEARD of the internment camps, but I had no idea how they operated, or what other abuses were heaped on t ...more
Theresa Southam
This book should probably be preceded by listening to its sound recording, if there were one? The story is so imbued with music that you can hear the story as music - almost. Even though I am not so familiar with classical music that I know Beethoven's Leonore Overture III, for example, I could hear this piece as the main character Bin leaves Ottawa, his home and the place of his wife's recent untimely death to revisit his first family and the place of his internment as a child in the Second Wor ...more
I liked this book very much. Bin is an interesting character who lives a happy life touched with a lot of sadness and anger. He and his family were put into an internment camp in Canada right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; I did not know Canada did this. The family watched as all their possessions were taken out of their house, looted right before their eyes. They were forced onto a boat taking them from Vancouver Island to the mountains in British Columbia. Not only did they lose their home ...more
A beautifully told story of a Japanese Canadian man coming to terms with the sudden death of his wife and his traumatic childhood when in 1942 all Japanese Canadians were put in camps. I also particularly liked his travelling companion, Basil the Basset Hound.
Steven Langdon
Requiem is a well-written and emotionally evocative novel built around the shameful interning of Japanese families during World War 2. Bin Okuma is just a young child when he is shipped to what amounts to a concentration camp -- an experience that shapes the rest of his life as this book recounts.

This grim tragedy in our history has been probed before and Itani's account is perhaps less passionate than some. But this is a reflective treatment of reconciliation and a thoughtful exploration of th
This is a wonderful book to read! The subject has been written about a lot recently, but this had a different setting. It is about Japanese-Canadians who were re-located at the beginning of World War II, in this case to a remote area in the mountains. The author acknowledges her mother-in-law as a source of information about her own experiences during the war. The chapters alternate between the present time and the 1940's, from the point of view of one man who is trying to come to terms with his ...more
Shelly Sanders
Requiem is a book about loss and the relationship between a father and son. What makes it such a wonderful read is the poetic language and the imagery which characterizes author Frances Itani as a gifted stylist. In particular, there is the repeated reference to water and Beethoven, rivers and music that the protagonist, Bin Okuma, listens to and recalls over his troubled life as a Japanese Canadian sent to an internment camp in Western Canada during World War II. Not surprisingly, Itani's husba ...more
Stephanie Nalepa
Requiem is a literary piece of fiction that tells the story of a man named Bin Okuma. The novel jumps from the past, where Bin spent his childhood in an internment camp during World War II in the 1940s, to the present in 1997 where Bin takes a cross country trip with his dog, Basil.
Although not the easiest or quickest novel to read through, it was very well written. Ms. Itani described events that took place during the World War II with considerable detail, so it was evident that she did exten
I really enjoyed this book. Lots of history and culture that I ended up researching afterwards about the Japanese removal during WWII. It is interesting how things that happen to us in childhood, sometimes pretty horrific things, define us and shape our personalities and views in adulthood. It has a good ending though. I think we have all had to come to terms at some point with a mistake our parents made. Most times those mistakes are not intentional but can have a lasting impact on our adult li ...more
Aban (Aby)
I first read "Requiem" in April of 2012, but have just re-read it for my book club next month. On the first reading I gave it four stars; this time I am giving it five. I found the book even more gripping second time round. From page one I was hooked, and teared up several times at heart wrenching moments during the novel. I loved the characters: sensitive, artistic Bin (whose journey - both physical and emotional - is central to the novel), his lively, insightful and loving wife, Lena, their ge ...more
The author is a poet and her language in this book reflects this beautiful talent. Her moving story is completely engaging and compelling. This story of the imprisonment of Japanese Canadians during WWII's war hysteria (just as it happened to Japanese Americans) provides a backdrop to portray how humans survive their worst life experiences. Itani maintains an authentic tone, her eye keen to reveal deep emotions but without fetishizing the subjects. Along the way, she takes the motif of the river ...more
Oh brother! What can I say about this book. Not exactly a secret that I liked it if you judge by the number of stars a book gets. I was sort of "forced" to read this one because it was a book club selection and I hadn't read several of the selections. This wasn't a book I would have picked up and read on my own.

I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't know that the Canadians were as misguided as the U.S. in interning Japanese Americans after attack on Pearl Harbor. Not just the fact that they wer
I found it a little hard to get into this book. A middle aged man, having just buried his wife, sets off on a journey of memory and healing. The chapters alternate between the present; his road trip with his grieving dog, his memories of his wife, his grief, and those of the past; as a child growing up in a Japanese internment camp on the west coast. This is a story not often told, certainly not often taught, and sadly, being forgotten. The writing is clear and matter of fact, the details distur ...more
An interesting insight into internment of the Japanese in Canada.

I found this book fascinating because, although I had read books about the internment of Japanese Americans following the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1942, I hadn't read about the experiences of the Japanese in Canada.

This novel is based around Bin Okuma, a Canadian painter of Japanese descent who had married a Canadian girl. They had one son, who was studying at university, when his mother suddenly died of a stroke.
Bin finds himse
In her novel Requiem, Frances Itani has captured one of the darkest legacies of North American history with rare style and beauty. Many of us now know that the United States interred citizens of Japanese descent during World War II but Itani broadens the vista to include the similar experience of those living on the west coast of Canada. Ripped from their homes, their possessions stolen virtually as they watched, thousands of Japanese Canadians spent up to five years in camps without housing oth ...more
'Requiem' tells the story of the internment of approximately 21,000 Japanese Canadians who were 'forcibly removed from their homes on the West coast and moved inland'. The year was 1942 and the actions were in response to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The narrator of the story, Bin Okuma, is an accomplished artist who, 50 years later and recently widowed, sets out to confront his past, revisit the internment campsite, and finally 'chase the ghosts' that have haunted hi
Shonna Froebel
Itani is an amazing writer and her books never fail to capture me. Her writing just flows so naturally. This novel is about Bin, a painter, who has recently lost his wife to a stroke. The sudden death has hit both Bin and his son Greg very hard. Bin and his family were among the many Japanese to be forcibly moved from Canada's west coast after Pearl Harbour, and they spent the war years at an internment camp in the Fraser River valley. As Bin struggles with grief, he decides to drive from his ho ...more
Jo Barton
This beautifully written novel focuses on the story of the internment of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia following the bombing of Pearl harbour, during WW2. The narrator, Bin Okuma, alternates the story of this internment, alongside his journey back to the camp some fifty years later. Told in three separate time strands, we are privileged to witness Okuma’s modern day journey, together with his rendition of times past, and also the story of his marriage, to his recently deceased wife, Len ...more
This novel examines the injustice of the internment of thousands of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War and the scars that remain for the survivors and their families.

The narrator is Bin Okuma; chapters alternate between his boyhood at an internment camp in interior British Columbia and his westward journey from Ottawa to the camp 50 years later, after the sudden death of his wife Lena. Lena recognized that Bin is full of suppressed anger about his past and wished him to reconcile wi
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Frances Susan Itani is a Canadian fiction writer, poet and essayist.

Itani was born in Belleville, Ontario and grew up in Quebec. She studied nursing in Montreal and North Carolina, a profession which she taught and practised for eight years. However, after enrolling in a writing class taught by W. O. Mitchell, she decided to change careers.

Itani has published ten books, ranging from fiction and po
More about Frances Itani...
Deafening Remembering the Bones Tell Leaning, Leaning Over Water Missing

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