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From Japanese-American writer Yamashita: a story of Japanese emigration set, like her first novel (Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, 1990), in Brazil. A range of characters, male and female, tell about a particular group of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil in the first decades of this century. Christian, well-educated, and reasonably affluent, they sought to establish communities where Christian and Japanese values could flourish. The group prospered, though not without cost, and it is this cost that's a major theme here. A secondary theme, suggested by the quotes from the philosopher Rousseau that precede each section, is the nature of education in a new world where emigrants' children often have only 'natural and purely physical knowledge.' Young Emile begins with his recollections of his 1925 arrival in Brazil as a small child; the uncomfortable journey to the settlement where families already there helped them clear land; and the hard work required to become self-sufficient. But even the most idealistic communities have problems, and, successively, Emile, Haru, Kantaro, and Genji, over the years, record the events and personalities that threatened the group: Kantaro, the visionary and dilettante, whose enterprises from baseball to chicken-farming had unforeseen consequences; the bitter divisions caused by WW I that led to the murder of an original founder; the effects of the enduring passion of Yergo for Haru; and the increased assimilation with neighboring Brazilians. Paradoxically, assimilated Guillerme notes in an epilogue that thousands of unemployed Japanese-Brazilians are currently working in Japan as menial labor. Though often seeming more a work of reportage than a novel, Yamashita's characters are vital, full-bodied creations offering sufficient balance, as well as answers to the questions raised. Informative and timely.-Kirkusshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • 147.32 x 223.52 x 20.32mm | 317.51g
  • Coffee House Press
  • Minneapolis, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1566890160
  • 9781566890168
  • 1,536,319

Review quote

"Immensely entertaining." --Newsday "Poignant and remarkable." --Philadelphia Inquirer "Warm, compassionate, engaging, and thought-provoking." --Washington Post "An intricate and fascinating epoch." --San Diego Review "With a subtle ominousness, Yamashita sets up her hopeful, prideful characters--and, in the process, the entire genre of pioneer lit--for a fall." --Village Voice "A splendid multi-generational novel . . . rich in history and character." --San Francisco Chronicle "Resonates with contemporary concerns. . . . A refreshing reminder of what the genre can offer: a setting so well researched that it doesn't need to call attention to itself, and a story so complexly suggestive that history becomes important again." --Belles Lettres "Full of sad and poignant scenes and some hilarious ones, too." --Minneapolis Star Tribune "Engrossing. . . . Yamashita's ear for emotional nuance draws the reader in." --Utne Reader "Historically informative and emotionally complex." --Bloomsbury Review "Fascinating. . . . A book one can't put down." --Asian Week "Unique and entertaining." --International Examiner "Particularly insightful." --Library Journal "Informative and timely." --Kirkus "Yamashita's heightened sense of passion and absurdity, and respect for inevitability and personality, infuse this engrossing multigenerational immigrant saga with energy, affection, and humor." --Booklist "This enriching novel introduces Western readers to an unusual cultural experiment, and makes vivid a crucial chapter in Japanese assimilation into the West." --Publishers Weekly "[Brazil-Maru] is history re-made most charmingly, large with character, quick with dreams." --Gish Jenshow more

About Karen Tei Yamashita

Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, I Hotel, and Anime Wong, all published by Coffee House Press. I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award. She has been a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellow and is currently Professor of Literature and Creative Writing and the co-holder of the University of California Presidential Chair for Feminist & Critical Race & Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa more

Rating details

59 ratings
3.61 out of 5 stars
5 14% (8)
4 44% (26)
3 34% (20)
2 7% (4)
1 2% (1)
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