Description

John Okada

The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy

Edited by Frank Abe, Greg Robinson, and Floyd Cheung

  • Published: July 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir; Pacific Northwest / History
  • Bibliographic information: 376 pp., 21 bandw illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies
  • Contents

No-No Boy, John Okada's only published novel, centers on a Japanese American who refuses to fight for the country that incarcerated him and his people in World War II and, upon release from federal prison after the war, is cast out by his divided community. In 1957, the novel faced a similar rejection until it was rediscovered and reissued in 1976 to become a celebrated classic of American literature. As a result of Okada's untimely death at age forty-seven, the author's life and other works have remained obscure.

This compelling collection offers the first full-length examination of Okada's development as an artist, placing recently discovered writing by Okada alongside essays that reassess his lasting legacy. Meticulously researched biographical details, insight from friends and relatives, and a trove of intimate photographs illuminate Okada's early life in Seattle, military service, and careers as a public librarian and a technical writer in the aerospace industry. This volume is an essential companion to No-No Boy.
Frank Abe is a journalist and producer of the PBS documentary Conscience and the Constitution. Greg Robinson is professor of history at Université du Québec a Montréal whose most recent book is The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches. Floyd Cheung is professor of English language and literature and American studies at Smith College and editor of early Asian American literary works by H. T. Tsiang, Sadakichi Hartmann, and others.The contributors are Lawson Fusao Inada, Martha Nakagawa, Stephen H. Sumida, Shawn Wong, and Jeffrey T. Yamashita.

"We have long needed a good book on John Okada. No-No Boy is a transformational novel, one of the most important pieces of writing ever in Asian American studies. Creating a context for it by examining the author's life in detail, adding other bits of his writing, and analyzing his oeuvre from all angles is a mighty undertaking, but this is a book we need."
-Paul Spickard, coeditor of Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies

"This volume reminds us of the key place of Okada's novel in the development of Asian American literary history. It makes us consider literary history more cogently, locating No-No Boy as both a literary artifact and as political and social intervention. By proposing new ways of reading and understanding elements-even controversial ones-in the text, this collection of essays highlights how novels that engage history continue to be relevant for new generations."
-Rocio G. Davis, author of Relative Histories: Mediating History in Asian American Families

"Finally, a book that unravels the enigma of John Okada and contextualizes his classic novel. A profound and thorough collection of work that was a joy to read."
-Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"Thrilling! A relevant and long-awaited exploration of an American literary hero, John Okada."
-Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award Winner

"A moving, comprehensive, and wonderfully readable tribute to a pioneer of Asian American Literature. John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work is part eulogy, part pedagogy, part literary excavation, and part scholarly compendium. These editors, scholars and writers have created a monument that will keep John Okada's work relevant and his legacy alive."
-Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being

"John Okada is perhaps still the greatest voice to have reached print from our community. Frank Abe has authored a fine and corrective biography, and the editors have assembled a festschrift of illuminating essays that demonstrate the significance of Okada's work and its pertinence to our time. This book is a treasure and a compelling tribute to our first literary master. Yes-yes!"
-Garrett Kaoru Hongo, author of Coral Road

Reviews

"This is a strong compilation, mixing Okada's writing with copious analysis of it, and telling a story of his life that both echoes and informs his best-known work."
-Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews