Lensey Namioka


Born
in Beijing, China
June 14, 1929

Website


Namioka was born in Beijing, the daughter of linguist Yuenren Chao and physician Buwei Yang Chao. The family moved often in China. In 1937, the Chaos were living in Nanjing, and fled westward in the face of the Japanese Invasion. They eventually made their way to Hawaii, then Cambridge, Massachusetts. Namioka attended grade school in Cambridge and excelled at mathematics.

Namioka attended University of California, Berkeley, where her father was a professor of Asian Studies. Here she met and married Isaac Namioka, a fellow graduate student in mathematics. The Namiokas moved to Ithaca, New York, where Isaac Namioka taught at Cornell University, and Lensey Namioka taught at Wells College.

In 1959, the Namiokas' first daug
...more

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Mismatch

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Half and Half

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April and the Dragon Lady

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“In America, your ancestors don't matter so much. You're just you.”
Lensey Namioka, Mismatch

“She’ll be five soon,’’ said Mother. ‘‘Most girls have it done even earlier. When Mrs. Liu saw Ailin the other day, she was shocked that her feet were still unbound. She also remarked on how spirited Ailin was. In other words, she found her spoiled and uncontrollable. Having Ailin’s feet bound would stop her from running around like a boy.’’ I looked at Little Brother, who was tottering up to a pot of chrysanthemums. In a few years he would be able to run around just like my cousins. Why was it all right for boys to run around but not for me? Father sighed. ‘‘Why can’t we wait a few years before deciding on the match with the Lius? I’ve never been keen on these early engagements.’’ He smiled. ‘‘Our marriage wasn’t arranged until you were fourteen, and it hasn’t turned out so badly, has it?”
Lensey Namioka, Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

“Then I carefully dipped my brush and wrote the characters for family, country, and book. When the examiner smiled, I knew he liked my work, so I decided to write the hardest character I knew, which was the one for virtue. It took fifteen strokes.”
Lensey Namioka, Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

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