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Snow Falling on Cedars

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  147,703 Ratings  ·  4,149 Reviews
Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric—a masterpiece of suspense which leaves us shaken and changed.

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award 1995 and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award

San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously
...more
Paperback, 460 pages
Published September 26th 1995 by Vintage (first published September 12th 1994)
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Holly McArthur
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Gary Lindsay Carolyn,
Does the book address Muslim prejudice today? Not directly, but there are unmistakable parallels between the anti-Japanese prejudice of the…more
Carolyn,
Does the book address Muslim prejudice today? Not directly, but there are unmistakable parallels between the anti-Japanese prejudice of the WWII era and today's situation. The book could easily be used to explore these. At the heart of both questions lies the American Dream, the belief that America is a country that offers the opportunity, through hard work, that one can provide a better life for themselves and their families. At the same time our society creates barriers of prejudice toward the "recent arrivals." This story shows clearly the unfairness of the Japanese internment during WWII, and the lasting effects of military and social training that dehumanizes, demonizes and stereotypes the enemy. This book does not preach but it sensitively explores the sources of prejudice in a way that can be applied to many situations today.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Madeline
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ugh
You know that guy who's at every party, the one who loves to hear himself talk and tells long-winded stories while the unlucky few who got caught in his gravitational pull nod politely and and start eyeing the exits?
Yeah. David Guterson is That Guy.
His book has a really intersesting subject: a few years after World War Two, a man of Japanese descent is accused of killing a white man on the small island community of San Piedro. The story follows the trial and breaks every now and then for flash
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Lizzy
"Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart."

There are books that are to be read with all your senses, Snow Falling on Cedars is such a book. Here you fell and read about prejudice and star-crossed love, flashbacks of war times coupled with recollections of the dramatic Japanese-American internment during the Second World War. All in a all-present atmosphere, Snow Falling on Cedars has enough ingredients to assure a great read. But there is more, lovers
...more
Matt
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
From the age of 18 to approximately 22, I went through my blue period. This era was marked by dateless Friday nights, dateless Saturday nights, Soprano-less Sunday nights (The Sopranos not having gone on air yet), and a long flirtation with hipsterism. During this time, I watched relationships end with such arbitrariness that I was left to conclude the Universe had conspired against me.

Maybe you've gone through a period like this. It's called youth. And if you have, you know there's a certain p
...more
Kristine
Jul 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: ppl who don't expect much
Shelves: unremarkable
When I found the word "cedars" 7 times on a 2 page spread, I shut down. The language is simple; maybe I'm supposed to perceive it as deep, mysterious, or simply written in a beautiful way, but I just found it dull. I was so tired of hearing about snow and cedars.

I think it had a trial in it, and a Japanese fisherman, and some discrimination; maybe it happened in an internment camp in Washington state or something. Or maybe the main character is investigating his father's involvement in a trial
...more
Erika
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It’s 1954 on an island off the Washington coast and Kabuo Miyamota is on trial for his life. Kabuo, a struggling commercial fisherman, has been accused of killing another fisherman, Carl Heine, over a land dispute.

It’s easy to see why he might be convicted. There’s motive, opportunity, and a pile of circumstantial evidence. There’s also a lot of prejudice against Japanese Americans who are regarded with hostility especially after World War II. And Kabuo himself doesn’t help. Here is the opening
...more
Kevin Ansbro
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"None of those other things makes a difference. Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we're safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is."

I believe that this suspenseful novel would also appeal to fans of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Elyse
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Kevin Ansbro, author of Kinnara, reminded me of this book...( having just read "The Translation in Love".
Although both stories are different...the history is heartwrenching of how the American - and Canadian- Japanese were treated during and post WWII.

I just saw that the author has a new book of 'short stories' coming out. "Snow Falling on Cedars" was a beautiful book. I must have read it before I was a Goodreads member -- (I still remember his 'writing'). Always did want to read another book
...more
David Lentz
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This PEN/Faulkner winning novel employs a narrative technique that distinguishes it. The tale is told from the points of view of the cast of characters. From their viewpoints the tale unfolds and we come to know the characters themselves more intimately because of their roles in relating the tale. Faulkner used this same approach in As I Lay Dying in which a group of travelers narrate their perspectives in the course of arduous travel. Chaucer likewise in The Canterbury Tales. The structure hing ...more
Natalia Smith
Aug 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
Dense, plodding, dull, and lifeless. The plot is buried under a mass of irrelevant description and pointless detail.

Guterson painstakingly describes every object, every person, every place, every building, every change in the weather, and the entire life history of every character who appears in the novel, in great detail and at great length.

Take out all that pointless description, and you'd be left with maybe six pages of actual story, and even that story would be boring.

Read To Kill a Mocki
...more
Bam
This book is many things: historical fiction, police procedural, courtroom drama, and love story. It is a densely-written, character-driven novel set on the isolated island of San Piedro in Puget Sound, where the hatreds, bitterness, and wounds of WWII have not completely healed almost ten years after the war's end.
The story opens in December, 1954, as Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, is on trial for the premeditated murder of Carl Heine, a fellow island fisherman. The motive appe
...more
Phrynne
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not sure why I have never read this before but I really enjoyed it anyway. Usually I am not a fan of court room dramas but the way this one alternated the court room scenes with background information and scenes from the past was wonderful. The representation of the Japanese people was a little stereotypical - no, a lot stereotypical - but it did not spoil the fascinating story. I was interested too to hear about this chapter in the history of the war. I knew about the way anyone with any German ...more
Hermien
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved the writing and the subject.
Suzanne
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the language and imagery the author created in this book. The title in itself sets the tone. I saw this years before the film and really felt the author conveyed what it was like living in the Pacific Northwest during the Second World War. I think the storyline is timeless. Forbidden love, societal rules...war. Recommended to those interested in period pieces with settings not often written about.
Natalie Richards
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-book
I loved this book. It was a slow start for me but then I really began to enjoy it. I liked the way that the writer gave such detail and background to all the characters; this helped to build the story and for me to feel as if I knew them. It has a lot of themes; murder, prejudice, hatred and humanity. I will now have to check out his other books.
CMT325
Jan 01, 2008 rated it liked it
This book grabbed me and wouldn't let me go ... at first. I had a hard time putting it down and doing required things to love, like eating and sleeping. But near the end of the book, it began to lose me. Let me elaborate.

The book begins with a murder trial 10 years after World War II. On a tiny island in the United Sattes called San Piedro Sound, murder hasn't been as issue in many years. But a fisherman is dead, and foul play seems to be involved.

The suspest is a Japanese American who lost lan
...more
Duane
This novel is a gem, a pleasure to read, and goes somewhat unnoticed in the realm of modern literature. It has striking similarities to "To Kill a Mockingbird". It's themes of prejudice, forbidden love, and greed are played out on a sleepy Puget Sound island in 1954. A white fisherman dies while out fishing one morning, and a Japanese American is accused of his murder. The prejudice surrounding Japanese Americans is strong in the aftermath of World War II, in spite of the fact most of them were ...more
Carol Storm
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Imagine what WEST SIDE STORY would have been like if Maria had married Chino like a good little girl. And Tony just sat around Pop's Soda Shop feeling sorry for himself. For ten years.

David Guterson has written a careful, elegant novel that pushes all the right liberal buttons (racial prejudice, evil military men, small town nastiness) but resolutely avoids any kind of heat, sexual, political, racial, or otherwise. The "oppressed" Japanese are sentimentalized to the point of being laughably unre
...more
Book Concierge
At once a courtroom drama, a love story, a war story and a coming-of-age story, Guterson’s debut novel is a marvelous work depicting one man’s struggle against his baser instincts.

Kabuo Miyamoto grew up on his family’s strawberry farm, land that his parents, born in Japan, were prohibited by law from owning. They leased the land from Carl Heine Sr, with an agreement that when their son turned 21, he (an American born citizen) would own the land. Natsue Imada also grew up on a strawberry farm, a
...more
Carol
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Guterson really knows how to tell a story! I liked how he gave background information on the characters because it really built the characters and gave an excellent history to help the reader understand where the writer was going with the events.
Alison
This book has just the right balance of drama, suspense, mystery and romance. It is set among the historical backdrop of WWII, overshadowed by the dark cloud of the internment of Japanese-Americans and sprinkled with patriotism and prejudice. Add good writing and steady pace and you have all the elements to make a wonderful novel! The author does a great job of illuminating the motives of each character and it's fascinating. I mean, poor Ishamel is motivated by lust and longing and regret and ha ...more
michael spencer
Aug 09, 2007 rated it liked it
3.5 stars, though it says differently above. Worth reading, and owning, but perhaps I should have bought it on sale. Reviewing this book is taking me a good amount of time after finishing it. There are many things that I think ought to be said about the book, but I am unsure how they all fit together. In addition to this, I have to keep myself unaware of the award-status and the fact that my grandfather was a navyman and a sailor at heart.

The language is rough but rhythmic, representative of the
...more
Colleen Coyne
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lit-fic
Overall, I was disappointed by this book. It could have been amazing, but Guterson doesn't seem to be able to create a compelling story or fully flesh out his characters. His greatest strength may be his ability to convey place - not in his occasionally overwrought, almost painfully flowery metaphors and similes, but in the rare moments where he captures the essence of the Pacific northwest in small but important details, simply stated. His language is evocative and moody, and there's no questio ...more
Tocotin
What. A. Boring. Book.

Absolutely pointless, with half-dead characters, mystery that leads nowhere, and a big fat bunch of stereotypes about small communities, Japanese, Germans, war veterans, men, women, you name it. One of those books where a noble intent only infuriates the reader. Why was it even written? To show that East is East and West is West and they can have sex but not love or what?

The Japanese elements were beyond lame. OMG there is nothing like "odori dance", "Shizuoka-ken-prefectur
...more
Clif Hostetler
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorite novels read sometime back in the 90s before my Goodreads.com days. The following short review is from the PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for today:

This was one of the first popular novels to explore the lasting effects of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. When the novel opens, it’s 1954 and memories of World War II are strong in an island community off the coast of Washington State. When a Puget Sound fisherman is found drowned, another
...more
Cary
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This remains my favorite book that I've ever read. It has suspense, romance, heartbreak, injustice, you name it. In addition, the setting is in the pacific northwest where I live and relates the terrible story of how japanese americans were treated in this country during World War II.
Guterson's descriptions brought the story into vivid focus. Many of the agricultural references rang true to me, as some of the same practices were in place when I was a boy.
Interestingly, I read another of his bo
...more
Debbie
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been so busy I took a long time with this book, however, it is no reflection on how much I like this book, respect the necessity of this book and completely comprehend it's position as a classic book. I now understand why this book is an award winner and found on many syllabus as required reading.

I wasn't really sure what to expect upon beginning this book. I just knew I was looking for something good and worth reading. From the very first page the author's skill made it self known. I coul
...more
Kristina King
Jan 29, 2009 rated it liked it
According to Wikipedia, Snow Falling on Cedars was written by a teacher, taking 10 years to complete. The success of this book should give hope everywhere to teachers who want to be writers. But not just because it was a successful—it is also a good read.

David Guterson's novel was published in 1994, and became a huge hit, spawning a film version in 1999. The front cover gives away its superstar status, with a giant "The Award-Winning #1 Bestseller" badge.

"Oh great," I said to myself after examin
...more
Brian
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the North of Washington State, near the border with Canada in 1954, Snow Falling On Cedars focuses on the trial of a Japanese American suspected of the murder of a local fisherman. In doing so it explores the experience of Japanese Americans during and after the Second World War and the complex of prejudice and resentment they encountered. If that sounds like a preachy book, then I should add that Guterson is not given to generalisations. He is interested in individuals, the moral dilemma ...more
Isidora
May 15, 2018 marked it as never-finished
Prevod na srpski škripi, muca i zapinje. Možda je i knjiga malo dosadna, možda joj nisam dala pravu šansu, ali posle 100 strana ne mogu više. Ostavljam.
Claire S
Really enjoyed this, was just perfect for me at the moment! I tend to like writing with lots of detail, more often than not, and this had that in a way that totally fit for me. Also great characterizations, interesting plot, a current story and lots of historical context filled in slowly in a way that really worked for me. It's also very visual, and I really liked that. I liked the map, I was visualizing scenes much more distinctly than I usually do while reading.
If this sort of content often w
...more
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383 followers
David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f
...more
More about David Guterson

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“Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.” 1243 likes
“None of those other things makes a difference. Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we're safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is.” 90 likes
More quotes…