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Nisei Daughter (Classics of Asian American Literature) [Paperback]

Monica Sone , Marie Rose Wong

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Book Description

25 May 2014 Classics of Asian American Literature
With charm, humor, and deep understanding, Monica Sone tells what it was like to grow up Japanese American on Seattle's waterfront in the 1930s and to be subjected to "relocation" during World War II. Along with over one hundred thousand other persons of Japanese ancestry - most of whom were U.S. citizens - Sone and her family were uprooted from their home and imprisoned in a camp. Her unique and personal account is a true classic of Asian American literature.

Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; Reprint edition (25 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295993553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295993553
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,390,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Monica Sone's account of life in the relocation camps is both fair and unsparing. It is also deeply touching, and occasionally hilarious." New York Herald Tribune "The deepest impression that this unaffected, honest little story made on me was of smiling courage." -San Francisco Chronicle

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First Sentence
THE first five years of my life I lived in amoebic bliss, not knowing whether I was plant or animal, at the old Carrollton Hotel on the waterfront of Seattle. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but disappointing 18 Feb 2003
By Charles E. Stevens - Published on Amazon.com
Part of Nisei Daughter's charm is the way Sone is able to weave entertaining anecdotes throughout her tale, a story which is essentially about what being Japanese American in the time around wartime America meant to her. Specifically, her position as a Nisei daughter -- child of first generation Japanese Americans -- is the focus of this tale.
The disappointing thing about this book is how obviously self-censored the book is. Sone very briefly reveals deeply felt rage and resentment at intervals during the book, only to shake them off and quickly change to a more light-hearted topic. Granted, there is an ironic tone to many of her comments and situations, and again granted, she is writing for a post-war audience that probably would not be receptive to outspoken criticism of the Internment, but still Sone seems to sugar coat the experience just a bit too much for my tastes. By the end, with the patriotic speeches that make it sound like the Internment was as much the fault of the Japanese Americans as it was the government, I was getting a little tired of Sone's carefree and apologetic tone, especially after the highly charged preface. In the book, Sone all but thanks the government for interning her and her family and giving them this character-building experience.
If you are truly interested in the internment and the impact it had on the Japanese Americans, try a book like Joy Kogawa's "Obasan." It's written about the Japanese Canadian experience, which was even more extreme than the Japanese American one. Kogawa also experienced internment first hand, but "Obasan" is written far enough after the fact that Kogawa is able to give the story more perspective and is able to put a more honest face on what really happened.
Nisei Daughter is not a bad book by any means ... but it did not live up to my expectations either. Sone's self-conscious editing makes the story seem much more like a novel than the autobiography that it supposedly is. I kept wishing she would drop the mask she was wearing and let the reader see what she was really thinking!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, well-crafted memoir 11 April 2002
By Chris - Published on Amazon.com
This is the story told by a daughter of Japanese immigrants growing up in pre-World War II Seattle. She was in college when Pearl Harbor struck.
I think the best parts of this memoir deal with the description of Japanese culture and the conflict between the Americanism of the Nisei and their Issei parents most of whom heavily maintained Japanese customs. Perhaps the funniest part of the latter in the book takes place during the wedding reception held for her brother Henry and his bride in their camp in Idaho during the war.
I'd have to say that the best written, the most vivid part of the books is the family trip to visit relatives in Japan where her little brother Kenji fatally contracted dysentery. I'm guessing that this trip must have taken place around 1929.
The author gets released from camp mid-way through the war to go live with some former missionaries in Chicago who are very nice. She works for a dentist who is, however, a real pain in the butt and she eventually quits.
She then gets the opportunity to go attend Wendell college in Indiana where she lives with a nice old widow and she says that this college was full of alot of diverse foreign students. She made many close friends. During her post-camp period, her faith in American democracy was largely restored because she met so many nice white Americans who weren't racist louts. The book ends on a sort of patriotic note which I can't follow completely. In Chicago she was often mistaken for Chinese and people told her how much they respected the Chinese people, America's ally and she was sometimes mistaken for various Chinese celebrities.
It's obvious, that the author, who at the time of this 1979 edition, was still a clinical psychologist, knows how to write. She is a very gifted descriptive writer, though sometimes she lays it on too heavy. She tells her life story with a great deal of sentimentality; at times I think she pours it on a little too sweetly. But heck it's her story and she crafts it very well.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read and Enjoy 20 Feb 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderful story about growing up in America as a 2nd generation Japanese-American. It is an important book to read so that we can better appreciate how fortunate folks are in the USA, and the importance of continued acceptance of other cultures and future citizens of the USA.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Generational and cultural conflicts 3 Sep 2002
By Manola Sommerfeld - Published on Amazon.com
Very nice memoir about being a first-generation Japanese American ("Nisei"). My biggest criticism is that the flow is not quite right. I attribute that to the fact that the author is not a writer by trade. The very extensive details that pepper the story detract to the overall flow of it, but nonetheless, this book is very interesting. Monica Sone explores the dichotomy that many "hybrid" people experience: the contradictions of culture, the generational gap made even deeper because of the cultural differences. In her case, these differences were quite extreme: from the demurred and modest Japanese ways to the boisterous, assertive American. She describes many examples of where these differences were patent, and does a very god job in the process. Another excellent area of the book is her analysis of the conflicting emotions she experienced. Here she is, feeling very American, and sent to a concentration camp, labeled as "the enemy". She and her fellow camp-mates experience a collective rage, but it is during these years and after her release that she finally comes to terms with her at times contradictory cultural heritage. The end has very patriotic overtones which I thought were quite sappy, given her circumstances. I wish she could have gone further into describing her family life after camp, and the reassimilation of Japanese into American society post WWII.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanese Daughter meets Nisei Daughter... 18 May 2005
By Etsuko Nishiki - Published on Amazon.com
As a real Japanese daughter in Tokyo of Today, I very much enjoyed Ms. Sone's narrative. This is a story about prewar Seattle and the life of Japanese-Americans, as well as her identity struggle during the war time.
With the eyes of an observant Nisei girl, Ms. Sone tells us about people around her, and school life, both local and Japanese, in a positive (somewhat humorous, sometimes sappy..) way.
This is amazing. No one told me such an interesting story like this. Travel guide books only show us lovely views or baseball stadiums. Japanese school textbooks NEVER mention Japanese-American history and heritage. What a waste. We could share their feelings...
I could have been a Nikkei(JA) daughter if my great-grand parents had emmigrated to the West Coast. (Actually, they once lived in Manchuria instead.)
Since I found this book, I also have searched my heart and wondered where I had come from... It's so stimulating.
ARIGATO, KAZUKO-san ! Seattle does not only mean Ichiro Suzuki.
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