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129 pages, Hardcover
First published August 23, 2011
Otsuka’s fiction has been published in Granta and Harper’s and read aloud on PRI’s “Selected Shorts” and BBC Radio 4’s “Book at Bedtime.” She lives in New York City, where she writes every afternoon in her neighborhood café.
تجمدنا من الداخل..ولم تتخلص قلوبنا بعد من جليدها
"On the boat we were mostly virgins. We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall. Some of us had nothing but rice gruel as young girls and had slightly bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still young girls ourselves." (Come, Japanese!)There is no traditional story, no traditional plot, no individual well-defined and developed characters. Instead, there are only "we", the intertwined voices of many Japanese picture brides spanning the time between coming to America - the land of promise - in the 1920s until the relocation to the internment camps in the 1940s.
"That night our new husbands took us quickly. They took us calmly. They took us gently but firmly, and without saying a word. They assumed we were the virgins the matchmakers have promised them we were and they took us with exquisite care. Now let me know if it hurts. They took us flat on our backs on the bare floor of the Minute Motel. They took us downtown, in second-rate rooms at the Kumamoto Inn. They took us in the best hotels in San Francisco that a yellow man could set foot in at the time..." (First Night)
"Because if our husbands had told us the truth in their letters - they were not silk traders, they were fruit pickers, they did not live in large, many-roomed houses, they lived in tents and in barns and out of doors, in the fields, beneath the sun and the stars - we never would have come to America to do the work that no self-respecting American would do."No individual figures or stories ever appear; instead, there are bits and pieces of everyone's fates weaving together in the tapestry of a common shared experience, encompassing many strands of unique potentialities that can create a true picture only when woven together, the way single pencil strokes come together to create a breathtaking sketch. Devoured in its entirety in a single sitting, it reads almost like a poem in prose, crisp and clear, deceptive in its simplicity, full of imagery that will stay to haunt you for a while.
"Whenever we left J-town and wandered through the broad, clean streets of their cities we tried not to draw attention to ourselves. We dressed like they did. We walked like they did. We made sure not to travel in large groups. We made ourselves small for them - If you stay in your place they'll leave you alone - and did our best not to offend. Still, they gave us a hard time." (Whites)
"Etsuko was given the name Esther by her teacher, Mr. Slater, on her first day of school. 'It's his mother's name,' she explained. To which we replied, 'So is yours.' (The Children)This book is not for you if you need a defined character to identify with when reading a story. It is not for you if you looking for a clear traditional plot. It is not for you if you need closure for the stories you read.
'A startled cat dove under a bed in one of our houses as looters began to break down the front door. Curtains ripped. Glass shattered. Wedding dishes smashed to the floor. And we knew it would only be a matter of time until all traces of us were gone." (Traitors)
"And after a while we notice ourselves speaking of them more and more in the past tense. Some days we forget they were ever with us, although late at night they often surface, unexpectedly, in our dreams. [...] And in the morning, when we wake, try as might to hang on to them, they do not linger long in our dreams. [...] All we know is that the Japanese are out there somewhere, in one place or another, and we shall probably not meet them again in this world." (A Disappearance)
بعيداً عن الضيعة فيما يقال توجد بيوت بيضاء فاخرة.... مراياها مذّهبه الأطر.... مقابض أبوابها من الكريستال.... ومراحيضها من الخزف تنظف بمجرد جذب سلسلة وليس بها رائحة.... بعيدا عن الضيعة توجد أمهات يتناولن فطورهن فى الفراش كل صباح.... واباء يقضون نهارهم فى المكتب.... جالسين على الأريكة... يصرخون بأوامر فى الهاتف ويتقاضون عن ذلك أجراً... بعيدا عن الضيعة فيما يقال حيث ذهبنا .... نظل غرباء ... وإذا صادف أن أخطأنا الباص فقد لا نعود للبيت أبداً
On the boat we were mostly virgins. We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall. Some of us had eaten nothing but rice gruel and young girls and had slightly bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still young girls ourselves. Some of us came from the city, and wore stylish city clothes, but many of us came from the country and on the boat we wore the same old kimonos we'd been wearing for years - faded hand-me-downs from our sisters that had been patched and redyed many times. Some of us came from the mountains, and had never before seen the sea, except for in pictures, and some of us were the daughters of fisherman who had been around the sea all our lives.Well it immediately drove me insane. But I persisted to the next chapter.
They took us calmly. They took us gently. They took us with exquisite care. They took us flat on our backs on the bare floor of the Minute Motel. They took us downtown, in second-rate rooms... They took us in the best hotels in San Francisco... They took us for granted. They took us by the elbows and said quietly, "It's Time". They took us before we were ready... They took us with our white silk kimonos twisted up high over our heads. They took us violently, with their fists... They took us even though we bit them. They took us even though we hit them...