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Snow Falling on Cedars

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  118,997 Ratings  ·  3,519 Reviews
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt. For on San Piedro, ...more
Paperback, 460 pages
Published September 26th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Madeline
Mar 21, 2016 Madeline rated it it was ok
Shelves: ugh
You know that guy who's at every party, the one who loves to hear himself talk and tells long-winded stories while the unlucky few who got caught in his gravitational pull nod politely and and start eyeing the exits?
Yeah. David Guterson is That Guy.
His book has a really intersesting subject: a few years after World War Two, a man of Japanese descent is accused of killing a white man on the small island community of San Piedro. The story follows the trial and breaks every now and then for flash
...more
Kristine
Jul 14, 2007 Kristine rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: ppl who don't expect much
Shelves: unremarkable
When I found the word "cedars" 7 times on a 2 page spread, I shut down. The language is simple; maybe I'm supposed to perceive it as deep, mysterious, or simply written in a beautiful way, but I just found it dull. I was so tired of hearing about snow and cedars.

I think it had a trial in it, and a Japanese fisherman, and some discrimination; maybe it happened in an internment camp in Washington state or something. Or maybe the main character is investigating his father's involvement in a trial
...more
Elyse
Apr 08, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing

Kevin Ansbro, author of Kinnara, reminded me of this book...( having just read "The Translation in Love".
Although both stories are different...the history is heartwrenching of how the American - and Canadian- Japanese were treated during and post WWII.

I just saw that the author has a new book of 'short stories' coming out. "Snow Falling on Cedars" was a beautiful book. I must have read it before I was a Goodreads member -- (I still remember his 'writing'). Always did want to read another book
...more
David Lentz
Dec 23, 2011 David Lentz rated it really liked it
This PEN/Faulkner winning novel employs a narrative technique that distinguishes it. The tale is told from the points of view of the cast of characters. From their viewpoints the tale unfolds and we come to know the characters themselves more intimately because of their roles in relating the tale. Faulkner used this same approach in As I Lay Dying in which a group of travelers narrate their perspectives in the course of arduous travel. Chaucer likewise in The Canterbury Tales. The structure hing ...more
Matt
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
From the age of 18 to approximately 22, I went through my blue period. This era was marked by dateless Friday nights, dateless Saturday nights, Soprano-less Sunday nights (The Sopranos not having gone on air yet), and a long flirtation with hipsterism. During this time, I watched relationships end with such arbitrariness that I was left to conclude the Universe had conspired against me.

Maybe you've gone through a period like this. It's called youth. And if you have, you know there's a certain p
...more
Phrynne
Dec 21, 2015 Phrynne rated it really liked it
Not sure why I have never read this before but I really enjoyed it anyway. Usually I am not a fan of court room dramas but the way this one alternated the court room scenes with background information and scenes from the past was wonderful. The representation of the Japanese people was a little stereotypical - no, a lot stereotypical - but it did not spoil the fascinating story. I was interested too to hear about this chapter in the history of the war. I knew about the way anyone with any German ...more
Natalia Smith
Aug 21, 2008 Natalia Smith rated it did not like it
Dense, plodding, dull, and lifeless. The plot is buried under a mass of irrelevant description and pointless detail.

Guterson painstakingly describes every object, every person, every place, every building, every change in the weather, and the entire life history of every character who appears in the novel, in great detail and at great length.

Take out all that pointless description, and you'd be left with maybe six pages of actual story, and even that story would be boring.

Read To Kill a Mocki
...more
Suzanne
Mar 06, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the language and imagery the author created in this book. The title in itself sets the tone. I saw this years before the film and really felt the author conveyed what it was like living in the Pacific Northwest during the Second World War. I think the storyline is timeless. Forbidden love, societal rules...war. Recommended to those interested in period pieces with settings not often written about.
CMT325
Jan 01, 2008 CMT325 rated it liked it
This book grabbed me and wouldn't let me go ... at first. I had a hard time putting it down and doing required things to love, like eating and sleeping. But near the end of the book, it began to lose me. Let me elaborate.

The book begins with a murder trial 10 years after World War II. On a tiny island in the United Sattes called San Piedro Sound, murder hasn't been as issue in many years. But a fisherman is dead, and foul play seems to be involved.

The suspest is a Japanese American who lost lan
...more
Carol Storm
Sep 09, 2012 Carol Storm rated it it was ok
Imagine what WEST SIDE STORY would have been like if Maria had married Chino like a good little girl. And Tony just sat around Pop's Soda Shop feeling sorry for himself. For ten years.

David Guterson has written a careful, elegant novel that pushes all the right liberal buttons (racial prejudice, evil military men, small town nastiness) but resolutely avoids any kind of heat, sexual, political, racial, or otherwise. The "oppressed" Japanese are sentimentalized to the point of being laughably unre
...more
Carol
Apr 10, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
Guterson really knows how to tell a story! I liked how he gave background information on the characters because it really built the characters and gave an excellent history to help the reader understand where the writer was going with the events.
Bam
This book is many things: historical fiction, police procedural, courtroom drama, love story. It is a densely-written, character-driven novel set on the isolated island of San Piedro in Puget Sound, where the hatreds, bitterness, and wounds of WWII have not completely healed almost ten years after the war's end.
The story opens in December, 1954, as Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, is on trial for the premeditated murder of Carl Heine, a fellow island fisherman. The motive appears
...more
Kristina King
Jan 29, 2009 Kristina King rated it liked it
According to Wikipedia, Snow Falling on Cedars was written by a teacher, taking 10 years to complete. The success of this book should give hope everywhere to teachers who want to be writers. But not just because it was a successful—it is also a good read.

David Guterson's novel was published in 1994, and became a huge hit, spawning a film version in 1999. The front cover gives away its superstar status, with a giant "The Award-Winning #1 Bestseller" badge.

"Oh great," I said to myself after examin
...more
Debbie
Sep 29, 2013 Debbie rated it it was amazing
I've been so busy I took a long time with this book, however, it is no reflection on how much I like this book, respect the necessity of this book and completely comprehend it's position as a classic book. I now understand why this book is an award winner and found on many syllabus as required reading.

I wasn't really sure what to expect upon beginning this book. I just knew I was looking for something good and worth reading. From the very first page the author's skill made it self known. I coul
...more
Brian
Jan 28, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the North of Washington State, near the border with Canada in 1954, Snow Falling On Cedars focuses on the trial of a Japanese American suspected of the murder of a local fisherman. In doing so it explores the experience of Japanese Americans during and after the Second World War and the complex of prejudice and resentment they encountered. If that sounds like a preachy book, then I should add that Guterson is not given to generalisations. He is interested in individuals, the moral dilemma ...more
michael spencer
Aug 20, 2007 michael spencer rated it liked it
3.5 stars, though it says differently above. Worth reading, and owning, but perhaps I should have bought it on sale. Reviewing this book is taking me a good amount of time after finishing it. There are many things that I think ought to be said about the book, but I am unsure how they all fit together. In addition to this, I have to keep myself unaware of the award-status and the fact that my grandfather was a navyman and a sailor at heart.

The language is rough but rhythmic, representative of the
...more
Cary
Jan 31, 2009 Cary rated it it was amazing
This remains my favorite book that I've ever read. It has suspense, romance, heartbreak, injustice, you name it. In addition, the setting is in the pacific northwest where I live and relates the terrible story of how japanese americans were treated in this country during World War II.
Guterson's descriptions brought the story into vivid focus. Many of the agricultural references rang true to me, as some of the same practices were in place when I was a boy.
Interestingly, I read another of his bo
...more
Joseph
Sep 25, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it
It's My Cousin Vinny meets Stephen King's It meets Chasing Amy (or 1000 Days of Summer.) Like My Cousin Vinny, the backdrop is a trial with quirky characters, a defendant that's been railroaded by cultural prejudice and some wildly coincidental evidentiary twists and turns. In this case, the defendant is a Japanese-American fisherman named Kabuo living in post-WWII Washington State. So while he's a native to the area, he's as much an outsider as Vinny's Yankee cousins are in the deep south.

But,
...more
Colleen
Oct 23, 2007 Colleen rated it it was ok
Shelves: lit-fic
Overall, I was disappointed by this book. It could have been amazing, but Guterson doesn't seem to be able to create a compelling story or fully flesh out his characters. His greatest strength may be his ability to convey place - not in his occasionally overwrought, almost painfully flowery metaphors and similes, but in the rare moments where he captures the essence of the Pacific northwest in small but important details, simply stated. His language is evocative and moody, and there's no questio ...more
Tocotin
What. A. Boring. Book.

Absolutely pointless, with half-dead characters, mystery that leads nowhere, and a big fat bunch of stereotypes about small communities, Japanese, Germans, war veterans, men, women, you name it. One of those books where a noble intent only infuriates the reader. Why was it even written? To show that East is East and West is West and they can have sex but not love or what?

The Japanese elements were beyond lame. OMG there is nothing like "odori dance", "Shizuoka-ken-prefectur
...more
Clif Hostetler
Jul 16, 2013 Clif Hostetler rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorite novels read sometime back in the 90s before my Goodreads.com days. The following short review is from the PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for today:

This was one of the first popular novels to explore the lasting effects of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. When the novel opens, it’s 1954 and memories of World War II are strong in an island community off the coast of Washington State. When a Puget Sound fisherman is found drowned, another
...more
Claire S
Really enjoyed this, was just perfect for me at the moment! I tend to like writing with lots of detail, more often than not, and this had that in a way that totally fit for me. Also great characterizations, interesting plot, a current story and lots of historical context filled in slowly in a way that really worked for me. It's also very visual, and I really liked that. I liked the map, I was visualizing scenes much more distinctly than I usually do while reading.
If this sort of content often w
...more
Stephanie
Feb 18, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone, Pacific Northwest lovers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea
Dec 02, 2012 Andrea rated it it was ok
I recently heard about this book when I caught part of a radio interview with the author. He was being interviewed about a new book of his, and this one was brought up. Without really describing what the book was about, they made it sound like a wonderful book.

I would like to give this book more than two stars, but there was just too much content that I felt like I needed to skim or skip. The author went into too much detail with some of his flashback scenes, some of which I found completely unn
...more
Marian
Oct 19, 2011 Marian rated it really liked it
If there was a choice for 3 1/2 stars, that is what I would choose. To me this book deserved more than just three stars, yet four may not reflect my true feelings for the story. It was not until I was nearing 100 pages did I start enjoying the book. From there I loved it. Yet in the last 100 pages it lost momentum for me again.

The stongest message of the book were the consequences of loss forced upon individuals because of prejudice and hysteria. It's unfair. So unfair. We're all just trying the
...more
Gela
Jul 12, 2015 Gela rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book. It was one of the books that got me really into reading. It's beautiful. If anyone has ever lost a true love under any circumstances near theirs then how can you not love this book. I've read comments about the book being simple or dense... To much imagery and so on. Well that's one if the things that make it beautiful unless you actually lived during that time at that particular place, fiction or not it sets the scene more clear then any big words or "getting to the ...more
Timmothy
Sep 18, 2010 Timmothy rated it it was amazing
Snow-Falling is an extremely well-written and carefully crafted book. Although a best-seller, a Pen/Faulkner Award winner, and adopted into both an academy award-winning film and a play, it has disappointed a fair number of readers whom were attracted to its murder-mystery portion and then put off by its slowness and flashbacks. Guterson evokes perfectly a time, place and its people. He gives a wonderful montage of history-sociology-psychology lessons revolving around a verdict-ready murder tria ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Fisherman and WWII veteran Carl Meine is found dead and tangled up in his fishing net one morning. At first glance it appears to be an accident, but the sheriff looks a little closer and starts to wonder. He soon arrests another fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto, for murder. Against the backdrop of the murder trial, Guterson explores the roots of the conflict that led to the accusation and the lives of the witnesses in a series of flashbacks.

Gorgeous. That's really the best word to describe this book.
...more
Annalisa
Mar 08, 2010 Annalisa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Annalisa by: Kristi
As this story unfolded, I found myself sympathizing with all the characters: Kabuo's prideful endurance of racism, Ishmael's broken spirit, Carl's position between his defiant mother and what he knew was right, and Hatsue's pull between youthful romance and the expectations of her culture. What touched me most was Ishmael's story, his broken heart and his fear in war. I felt so sad for him.

The fog-covered island was a beautiful setting for these rich, interlacing stories of people trying to make
...more
Kathy Kaylor
Apr 24, 2008 Kathy Kaylor rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
There is a breath taking story buried in the details of this book. My suggestion is buy the Cliff Notes. This book is written like really early fiction, so filled with detail that you almost miss it when a plot point crops up. I almost quit this book when I had to read a page and a half (I may be exaggerating here) of description of the glimpse of the living room the sheriff gets through the screen door when he is waiting for the lady of the house to answer his knock. He is there to tell her tha ...more
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1873
David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f
...more
More about David Guterson...

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