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4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  777 Ratings  ·  166 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 DallaireRequiem by Frances ItaniVarious Positions by Martha SchabasUnder an Afghan Sky by Mellissa FungShelter by Frances Greenslade
Evergreen 2013
2nd out of 10 books — 3 voters
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordWhen the Emperor Was Divine by Julie OtsukaThe Buddha in the Attic by Julie OtsukaFarewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki HoustonRequiem by Frances Itani
Books about Japanese-American Internment
5th out of 41 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,839)
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Mar 01, 2014 Candice rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2012 Jeanette rated it liked it
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 it was amazing
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
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
Nov 12, 2012 Janice rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2015 ☕Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I am a huge fan of this author and have loved many of her other works, but found this one a bit too slow moving. I enjoyed the parts of the book which were set back in the internment camp and wish that less of the book had been devoted to the later years.
Mar 19, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2012 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
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
Aug 03, 2012 Joyce rated it it was ok
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
Oct 19, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 24, 2013 Terry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jul 01, 2013 Havi rated it it was amazing
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
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1980, when I was 30 years old, I took a course in young adult literature at Cal Poly. One of the books we read was entitled Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Houston. It was my first exposure to information about the internment. I was astounded that it had never been mentioned in a high school or college level history course.

I've since met a woman who was born in an internment camp. I've seen a replica of a typic
Aug 29, 2015 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read the synopsis of this novel and discovered that it deals with Japanese internment camps, I almost didn't read the book, because I'm an emotional person and I am so enraged by historical events such as that that I thought I might not be able to make it through. I'm glad I went ahead and read this beautiful story, though, which alternates between 1997 and the 1940s and centers on Bin Oda Okumura, who was taken with his family from their fishing village on the coast of British Columbia a ...more
Theresa Southam
Apr 29, 2014 Theresa Southam rated it really liked it
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
May 03, 2014 Pammie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2016 Vicki rated it it was amazing
I loved the symbolism and the simple symmetry(`shadow and light`) of this book...a worthy read, one of my faves so far, not just because of the plot that seamlessly weaves from placement in an internment camp in the past to dealing with the main character Bin's present day grief. Loss of his wife and a son who goes back to university life, he is lonely and finally decides to return to his BC birthplace that he hasn't been to in 51 years. His sister has begged him to visit their father whom he h ...more
Sep 01, 2013 Hermien rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks, wwi-ii
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.
Jul 28, 2015 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Read!

This story is the saga of Bin. A young Japanese boy's journey from the coast of Vancouver Island to the interment camp of WW2 to Ottawa and beyond. No other 20th century people on the North American continent, except the Japanese citizens can imagine what it is to be taken from their home, their goods sold, their families sometimes separated, then forced to live in camps for years and not allowed to return to the areas they knew before the war. This happened for no other reason th
Aug 14, 2016 Kendra rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2016 Dale rated it really liked it
Although the topic is far less than peaceful, when I finished the last few words, I felt at peace for having read this lovely text. Thanks, again, to Itani for writing such profound and visually spectacular stories.

I loved Bin and his journey to find out who he was today, remembering all of his life experiences and the prophesy that was given to him by nature of the date of his birth and his birth-order in his family. Like any child who is chosen by an adoptive parents, they have been picked to
Aug 30, 2015 Tara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
The book was slow moving at the beginning, although I wanted to be drawn in, to learn of Bin's childhood, his relationship with his wife and her death. However, what i took as "slow" may have been a writing technique for once Bin opened himself to his grief and his memories, I became more and more drawn into his story. Like the rivers that are so prominent in the book, reading the book was like travelling along a river, sometimes cruising along, sometimes caught up in whitewater, sometimes playi ...more
Steven Langdon
Nov 30, 2014 Steven Langdon rated it liked it
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
Jul 10, 2016 Kay rated it it was amazing
A wonderful but sad novel about a boy who was one the 21,000 Canadian citizens of Japanese ethnicity who were rounded up and exiled to barebones camps right after Pearl Harbor. I had always thought of the Canadians as being somehow more enlightened and civilized than Americans, but in this instance they were every bit as brutal. The exiles saw their homes and belongings looted even as the boat was pulling out from the dock to take them away.
Nevertheless, they did an amazing job of retaining the
Shelly Sanders
May 20, 2015 Shelly Sanders rated it really liked it
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
Jul 22, 2016 Stephanie Nalepa rated it it was ok
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
Sep 30, 2014 Tonja rated it really liked it
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)
Aug 30, 2014 Aban (Aby) rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2013 Ming rated it really liked it
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
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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...

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