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The Electrical Field

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  326 ratings  ·  23 reviews
When the beautiful Chisako and her lover are found murdered in a park, members of the small Ontario community must finally acknowledge certain inescapable truths. Set in the 1970s, The Electrical Field reaches deep into the past to explore the dire legacy of the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the war.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 17th 1998 by Vintage Canada (first published 1998)
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3.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  326 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not really sure how to rate this. On the one hand, it was pretty compelling - I really wanted to know what had happened. On the other hand, it was dark and claustrophobic, and the narrator had a particularly repellent way of looking at things. So, I think it was well-written, but I hated reading it at the same time.
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This was an unusual book, and not at all what I was expecting. When reading the back of the book, you are led to believe the novel is about the internment of Japanese Canadians in WW2. Actually, it's about the consequences of a Japanese woman who has an affair with a "hakujin" (Caucasian) businessman. The story is told by a single Japanese woman neighbour, and she is an unreliable narrator. She is plagued by demons of her past that are slowly revealed, and she is hard to follow, and seems quite ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of this book -- curious why the reviews are mediocre. Very thought-provoking, creative twists, some education as to the internment camps and their damage psychologically, and some surprises as well.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it.
This book may well be impossible for me to review.

Really, I'm sitting here stuck.

It's not a bad book, though I didn't really like it (as though my preferences are indicative of objective quality—and what would even be objective quality in art or literature? But that's a whole 'nother topic.)


The Electrical Field is the story of Asako Saito, a second-generation Japanese woman apparently living in Canada, according to the catalogue data, who lived in one of the internment camps during WWII.
Amanda Bolderston
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was on my radar for a while - it won the 1999 Commonwealth Writer's prize for best first book - and it has an awesomely cool cover. Are you sensing a "but"....? I did find it hard to read - the story deals with a middle-aged Canadian-Japanese woman in a rural Ontario setting who cares for her elderly bedridden father and chicken-sexing brother (it's his job, not a fetish). She is stuck - in the past (the Canadian WW2 camps where people of Japanese origin were incarcerated and, in many ...more
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
I thought Sakamoto was very clever in her crafting of the story and her weaving together of the parallels in the lives of 2 women of 2 different generations. It's the first book I have ever read with so much detail as to body functions, odours, sensations and visuals and I can't say I liked that much. The electrical field is an interesting device to hold everything together, but not used enough, I felt. As for the sexing of chicks part at the end, I am not sure why that is there, except to show ...more
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canlit
I expected something similar to Joy Kogawa's Obasan and was sorely disappointed. The story is loosely arranged around the alleged murder of a Japanese man's wife and her lover in a Toronto area park, but actually uses the murder as a foil to dig into the psyche of the murdered woman's neighbour Asako, whose family experienced the incarceration of Japanese-Canadians in WWII. Unfortunately, characterization was thin at best, and the first person approach failed miserably. I got so tired of living ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Mostly I just wanted this book to be over. It was far too slow for me. It seemed as if the author took a tragic event and tried to add some drama to it that just did not exist. When the story starts, we already know what happened and who did it. Within a few pages we also know what the main characters issues are. Since these are never resolved in any way, there is really no conflict in the story. Without conflict or resolution, or let's face it a single likeable character, what exactly was the p ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"When the beautiful Chisako and her lover are found murdered in a park, members of the small Ontario community must finally acknowledge certain inescapable truths. Set in the 1970s, The Electrical Field reaches deep into the past to explore the dire legacy of the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the war." (From Amazon)

A well-written novel but I could not get into the novel itself.
Johanna Lauer
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read it for a class on Asian-Canadian fiction. But in this book, the Japanese-Canadian internment during and after WWII is hardly relevant IMO. It's about a murder in the community, narrated by the Canadian-born, middle-aged and rather confused Asako Saito, whose drifting thoughts drive you crazy. I didn't really get the point of this book, though it is kind of suspenseful.
Aug 22, 2007 rated it liked it
Difficult to get into at first, no real likable characters but worth the read. Dances around Japanese internment camps, with more of an emphasis on how the experience affected people, not the actual events. There are vivid images that still come to mind when I think about this novel.
Another one I would give 3 1/2 stars.
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
OK. It is a good story but the narration is weird. I found the beginning so confusing I almost quit reading the book. As the story progressed I adjusted to the style of the narrator and was able to sort out who was who (kind of confusing since I have no familiarity with Japanese names.). Very emotional book but since it is classified as a 'thriller' it was somewhat underwhelming.
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canadian-lit
It contains very sharp, delicate prose...but the story is so full of trapped, embittered, cynical, passive-aggressive characters that it becomes a novel that is VERY difficult to like or enjoy. One of my strangest reading experiences of the last few years.
The writing style drove me nuts, as did the plot. Though I did learn a fair amount about unreliable narrators. Disappointed that there wasn't more about the Canadian internment. And am still confused as to what exactly happened.
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
4 out of 10. I'm not exactly sure what happened in this book, and not in a good way either.
Bharat ravirala
hmmm socked his life in this novel
Jul 07, 2011 added it
Definitely a strange read. The middle-aged spinster protagonist lets herself get dragged around by the whims of a pre-teen child. Begs the question: who's the adult here?
Nabeeha Naqvi
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. Haunting and heart-breaking
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and have read it 2 times. A little depressing but intriguing as well.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Apr 23, 2008 added it
Impressive. Perhaps a little too self-conscious, but then it's a topic that requires a little introspection. I'm looking forward to writing a twenty page paper on it. Should be good times.
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Post WW2 story about Japenese who were post interment. It is a mixture of a murder, loneliness, and personal demons.
Gopalakrishnan Rangasamy
rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2015
rated it it was ok
Oct 06, 2015
rated it it was amazing
May 01, 2018
Lena Pearce
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Jul 17, 2014
Serafina Sands
rated it it was ok
Jan 01, 2016
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Jan 15, 2010
rated it it was ok
Sep 17, 2018
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