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Floating City

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  197 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Citizen Kane reimagined, a novel about ambition and the relentless desire to belong, from the author of the Commonwealth Prize-winning and Governor General's Literary Award-nominated The Electrical Field .

Frankie Hanesaka isn't afraid of a little hard work. An industrious boy, if haunted by the mysterious figures of his mother's past in Japan, he grows up in a floating
Hardcover, First Canadian Edition, 288 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Knopf Canada
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Average rating 3.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  197 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Not sure what to say about this book. My last Kerri Sakamoto book, The Electrical Field, left me confused and I cannot say that I enjoyed reading it. I thought I'd give this author another chance, so....My reaction to this book is not so negative, but I kept finding myself gritting my teeth at the writing style, which I found choppy and abrupt. I was also thrown by Frankie's conversations with Bucky throughout the story as that left me wondering whether this book was fiction or magic realism. An ...more
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
Well. This book was not a book for me. I would say this novel is for a specific reader to enjoy. What kind of reader? Well, I don't even have an answer for that one. It's hard for me to even pinpoint a genre for this novel. It came across as one part historical fiction, one part literary fiction, and potentially even one part magical realism. If that sounds like your cup of tea, maybe give it a shot.

Overall, I found the story and the writing kind of bland; however, that's a personal opinion. So
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. So often, books about immigrants pursuing the 'American Dream' and becoming a 'Master of Industry' feature white men; this is the first time I can think of that I've seen the story told with a Japanese-Canadian man. Floating City is about a man driven by ambition, often to the detriment of his loved ones, and like many ambitious heroes, Frankie Hanesaka ends up sacrificing a lot to achieve his dreams. There's something Gatsby-esque about Frankie -- he's a charismatic, brillian ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I did enjoy the beginning of the book, which gives a glimpse into the immigrant experience. If you are looking for a historical fiction novel, this is not the book for you. The time spent in the internment camp is less than twenty pages and the book spans decades with little detail. The book moves quickly from one setting to another and you don't become emotionally involved in the characters, or the setting. ...more
Catharine Heddle
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book is marvellous: sweet, sad and magical, full of beautiful and heartbreaking nuance. Your imagination will soar, but there are just enough real-world touchpoints (people, places, events) to make it all seem possible and true. My mind keeps returning to Floating City's fascinating characters and intricate spaces. ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canlit

Why did it take me so long to get through this book? I was reading it for a month and a half. I never felt like I could place myself in the world that Sakamoto was creating. I know Toronto a bit, and I was missing some key place markers that would allow me to fit in this newer, changed city. I also discovered that this was semi-based (as based as you can get when getting a little magical) on a real person at the end of the book (outside the narrative, printed as its o
Ben Truong
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Floating City is a standalone, historical fiction written by Kerri Sakamoto. It is a semi-bildungsroman story of a Japanese-Canadian named Frankie Hanesaka and his journey from Port Alberni, British Columbia to Toronto, Ontario. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Toronto Book Awards.

Frankie Hanesaka is a boy in rural British Columbia who grows up to be a mover-and-shaker cluttering the Torontonian lakeshore with apartment blocks and towers. His family grew up in poverty and racism and Frankie
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, fr
This book is a work of historical fiction that tells the life of Frankie Hanesaka. Frankie, later calling himself Frank Hanes is an industrious boy who grows up in Port Alberni, BC, and whose family gets moved to a Japanese internment camp during WWII. When the war is over, he is able to move to Toronto, leaving his family behind, in order to try and earn enough money to have his family eventually come with him.

Frankie's ambition is to eventually build a floating city. He learns some tricks of t
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book struck me as somewhat strange during the first chapter or two, but then things were explained and I fell into a rhythm of reading it, having a tough time taking a break when I had other obligations to tend to.

I loved that the story took place in parts of British Columbia that I am familiar with. It was difficult to read of the poverty, unfairness, and prejudice that took place during the 1940s in Canada. A very shameful time in Canada's history.

Frankie, his brother and sisters were b
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I read a short magazine review of this book and a few days later saw it on the "Best Bets" shelf at the library. I was intrigued that one of the characters was Buckminster Fuller. I did enjoy "Floating City" but I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't know about things like Hurricane Hazel.
I found that I couldn't make sense of the timelines in the book. Our main character Frankie seems only to have just arrived in Toronto (and it's not clear how long after World War II that was, but li
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. There were many overlapping themes, beginning with a young Japanese boy living with his family in a floating house on the west coast. Following internment to the interior during the war, and making the best of the situation there through his skill in wheeling and dealing, he makes his way to Toronto, where he comes into contact with a great architect who is building innovative skyscrapers in the new Toronto. His hero and mentor is Buckminster Fuller, whose dreams of floa ...more
K.A. Wiggins
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, giveaways
Really enjoyed the historical detail in this; the Nisei experience on Canada's west coast is fascinating, and I've only read a few perspectives on it. Authentic-feeling story of a Canadian-born son of Japanese parents from the 1930s-1980s. Starts with childhood experiences living on a floating house on the BC coast and follows through the internment and mountain camps of WWII, setting out to Toronto in the postwar period to build a life, dreaming and working toward success, and dealing with the ...more
I won this book in a Goodreads First-reads Giveaway. Thank you! I enjoyed this book, but it was first a story about the lives of Japanese Canadians during WWII and their forced internment, which was well-written and historically interesting. And readers are shown the racial discrimmination that existed toward Asians, particularly the Japanese, at that time. But the book gradually became a different book, once Frankie moved to Toronto, and magical realism and metaphysics took over. T ...more
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction tells the life story of Frankie Hanesaka, who wants to make his mark in Canada and prove himself after growing up in a poor family of Japanese immigrants. The books talks about racism in Canada, urbanization of Toronto and follows Frankie's relationships and transition to businessman Frank Hanes. While aspects in the story are based on historical events, the writer says the book is more about imaging "a story that might have been." The timeline of the book is across Frank ...more
Gabrielle de R
First half of the book: an easy four stars. Second half: around two.
I really loved the beginning of this. I was so invested in the lives of Frankie and his family, and my heart ached for all their hardships. I was really rooting for things to finally start looking up after he moved west!
But once Frankie came to the big city, I started losing interest - it was a real effort to finish the book, which I'm still pretty sad about. It was lovely and whimsical, but I'm a wimpy reader and hate it when c
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Thanks to the publishers for this ARC copy. I really enjoyed this book. I was interested to learn about the experience of Japanese Canadians during WW2. The author's style is engaging, providing big moments without being forceful. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the brief sections that went all metaphysical. I felt jarred by them and felt they were forced. However they did not affect my overall enjoyment of the story. If there was another book with Frankie and his family I would read it. I wo ...more
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book was assigned reading in my book club for Asian history month. I admit that I had never really heard of the "floating city" concept nor was I too aware of the challenges the Japanese faced in Canada. I found the character development to be pretty good and there were lots of moments which were filled with love. That said, I just could not find myself getting into this book at all. I found it difficult to read (although it was relatively simple reading, but I got bored and had to put it d ...more
Tashfin Awal
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways and have chosen to give my honest opinion about it.
This book definitely made me feel good, with a character I could look up to and respect and setting changes that were all too familiar and added to the feeling of relatability. The plot took enough turns at the beginning, however I feel like it kind of slowed down by the end. But still, the character development and sad historical relevance of the book makes this definitely an important r
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I loved this book, especially the way it has such a lovely magical (or you could call it spiritual) element to it. Lovely writing, that pulls you in. Plus, it's a topic I'm interested in - ever since reading "Obasan", I've been curious about the experience of Japanese Canadians during World War 2. As a Canadian myself, this is of special interest to me, and I've often felt that the topic hasn't been given the attention it merits, so it was good to see it addressed here. Well-written, engaging, a ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic alternative history to, and an incredibly accurate portrayal of an Immigrant or 1st generation story from the advent of World War 2 to near present day.

It moves with speed and at times it is a jarring narrative style to ask the reader to "catch-up" with the author without clear breaks or delineation of ideas and thoughts. It leads to exciting components to the read, and puzzling narrative decisions at others.

Overall, I had such a wonderful time reading this book that I woul
This was the last read of my beer and book club for the summer, and I feel torn on it. On one hand it's a fantastic Toronto-specific story about a family trying to find their place. On the other side of it, this book is a super duper slow burn that for me, took a bit to get going. I loved that this book is based off of architectural plans that never happened and what it could have been, and all the characters grew on me -- though as I said, it just took a bit and perhaps I wasn't the most patien ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dwg, canadian, first-reads
Captivating story of Frankie from his early years in British Columbia with his Japanese parents to making his way across Canada to build a future for himself and fulfill his dreams and ambitions. I enjoyed the details of Frankie's early life, time in the Japanese internment camps and his witnessing of the growth of Toronto. The back cover describes it as a fairytale-like story and I felt this throughout the book. ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
There’s a thread of a sort of magical realism wound through this tale of family, big dreams, and strange architecture. It makes for some lovely imagery.

I rather enjoyed parts of this book, early on the building of a floating island flower garden was lovely, but I found much of the plot in the second half of the book difficult to follow.

(I received a free ARC of this book through a giveaway on goodreads)
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely novel. Starting with the life of Frankie as a young boy, to his family's time in a Japanese prison camp, to overcoming their poverty. This is fiction, but not historical fiction. It does tie into a fictionalized Buckminster Fuller. (Any book that can bring alive geodesic domes is a hit for me!) Behind this backdrop are ideas which make a reader reflect: family, poverty, helping others, and, what ifs. I'm a fan of her previous books, but, I think this one is my favourite. ...more
Mallee Stanley
May 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
Although Frankie Hanesaka is born in B.C. his family are removed from their Port Alberni home. They live in a shack that floats on water until war breaks out when, like all the Japanese in the province, they are removed and sent to the interior. Once the war ends, his family sends Frankie to Toronto first where he dreams of making it big and hopes to support his entire family. But will be prosper? And if he does, will his dreams for the future make him happy?
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Goodreads and Kerri Sakamoto for an advance read copy of "Floating City". Great read. I would give this book a 4.5 if it was possible. I really loved it. Exceptional writing. I recommend this book for sure. If you think the story is based on fact then look it up and learn more. I learned a lot and enjoyed the writing and the story. ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: english
This story has nothing that let me want to read more and discover what is going to happen! It was smooth, deadly smooth which is something unexpected, at least for me, when it comes to reading about Japan and/ or Japanese since stories from that part of the world are always interesting, unique and not similar to anything else. However, this novel, unfortunately, was the exception!
Harry Junior
Jan 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
Immaculate prose shaping an at times nebulous narrative, deeply rooted in Japanese immigrants and their expropriated lives in Canada during the war. Strong themes of losing and finding one's way, of honouring our histories, and even revising them as a means of honouring. At times, I couldn't place all the metaphor, but the ending was beautifully rendered, and well-earned. A fascinating read. ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This engrossing novel captured the fervour of historical travesties of justice by illuminating the personal consequences suffered by these diverse individual characters in Canada!
Harold Walters
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A GoodReads GiveAway

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