The nine short stories in this collection reveal a moving portrait of three generations of Japanese-Americans trying to fit themselves into the fabric of American society. The author writes: "I wandered ghostlike amidst the mainstream of America, treading unaware of the cultural amnesia inflicted on my parents' generation by the internment and the atomic bomb." Poignant, heart-breaking, and often funny, these tales chronicle the pains and hopes of family members reaching out in individual ways to understand themselves, their families, and their community. "Ruth Sasaki writes with great self-knowledge, with a sensitivity born of examined experience, and with a wonderfully humorous insight of the American ethnic experience."--Gus Lee, author of "China Boy"" " "Sasaki's stories mark an impressive debut."--"Newsday " "Quiet, elegiac writing that movingly celebrates the immigrant rite of passage--along with all its implicit heartaches and triumphs."--"Kirkus Reviews" "Sasaki writes with great sensitivity, intelligence, subtlety and humor."--Traise Yamamoto, "Multicultural Review" "Nine loosely connected tales weave the experiences of three generations of Japanese-Americans in San Francisco into a subtle, appealing tapestry . . . So sure is the author's touch that a few deft strokes serve to define a character, a moment, the tenor of a life. Sasaki's understated, cerebral prose speaks to the heart."--"Publishers Weekly "Table of Contents Another Writer's Beginnings Ohaka-mairi The Loom Independence First Love American Fish Wild Mushrooms Driving to Colma Seattle
R.A. Sasaki is a third-generation San Franciscan. She attended the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, has a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Winner of the 1983 American Japanese National Literary Award, she has had stories published in the "Short Story Review" and "Making Waves: An Anthology of Writing by Asian-American Women." "The Loom and Other Stories" is her first published collection. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.
I wish I could remember when I read this, but it wasn't very long ago, about a few months ago, I think -- I picked it off the shelf of a used bookstore and bought it on a whim. I'm not much of a short story person (trying to get into them more), but I found myself quite captivated by this. Sasaki's recollection of the Japanese-American experience throughout generations pre- and post-WWII is nothing short of poignant and deeply personal. Throughout the characters that recur throughout the stories, their different perspectives and experiences, Sasaki weaves a tale that is emotional and evokes the same pain that anyone with a recent immigrant history in their family tree is familiar with. Whether it's the foremothers' adjustment to the changes that come with being the first generation of immigrants or the Americanization of their grandchildren, Sasaki captures not just the Japanese-American experience but the Asian-American experience in the Bay Area, of which I myself am quite familiar with, with brilliant precision.
I searched up Sasaki after reading this hoping to find other work and was so disappointed to see this was her only collection! Her essays on her blog are also great reads -- highly recommend.
All I can say after reading this book is "meh." I felt "preached at" in most of the stories -- as opposed to "right in it." There was no sense of urgency or immediacy to each of these tales -- maybe calling them "anecdotes," or "memoirs" might be a better fit than "stories." There really wasn't anything to this book. It read a lot like newspaper clippings, although the three later stories were the brightest of the collection (though still mediocre at best).
It saddens me to give such a lackluster review, since I got the impression the author really poured their heart and soul into this one; but the work just didn't sit with me.
Another book for one of my classes, but this had me pouring my heart and soul out in the papers that I had to write. The relationship between the daughters and their mother, the life of the girls as third-generation Americans, everything, reminded me of my life now (technically I'm second-gen, though). It is a great book if someone wants to "explore" how others feel about being in America and belonging to two cultures.
Ruth Sasaki captures the lives of the Japanese American living during WWII Her descriptive writing style helps the reader realize many of the conditions faced by the characters she writes about I history repeating itself once again?