Japanese-American Internment

Read FeedShaw (Watha T. Daniel) Library

Japanese-American Internment

In the weeks and months after Pearl Harbor was bombed, more than one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast were relocated and incarcerated in internment camps for the duration of the Second World War. A number of fiction books address this little-known and regrettable chapter in American history.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
In a small island community in the Pacific Northwest, nearly a decade after World War II, collective trauma and bigotry overshadow the trial of Japanese-American fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto, accused of murdering a fellow fisherman. Meanwhile, a local reporter struggles with anger over his own wartime losses (his left arm and his high school girlfriend, now Kabuo's wife).

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
A Japanese-American family during is uprooted during World War II. First, the father is arrested in the middle of the night and taken away. A few months later, the mother and her young daughter and son pack up and report as ordered to a Civil Control Station, to be eventually relocated to an internment camp in Utah for the duration of the war. Memorable details show the challenging conditions and indignities the family endures for what they are told is "an opportunity to prove their loyalty" to the US.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Henry Lee is mourning the recent loss of his wife to cancer. Without her, Henry struggles to connect with their college-age son. During the renovation of a hotel in his Seattle neighborhood, the belongings of several Japanese households are discovered - hastily stashed there as families were forced to evacuate to relocation camps forty years earlier. The discovery takes Henry back to memories of his childhood sweetheart and his relationship with his own traditional and disapproving father.  

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
In the early 1900s, a group of young Japanese mail-order brides comes to San Francisco for arranged marriages to Japanese men they have never met. The women build new lives with strange men in a foreign and unwelcoming place.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende 
At the onset of World War II, eight-year-old Alma Belasco is sent from Poland to San Francisco to stay with her affluent cousins. She immediately forms a close bond with Ichimei Fukuda, the Japanese gardener’s son. The budding romance is abruptly interrupted when the Fukuda family is ordered to evacuate to an internment camp for the duration of the war. Seventy years later, Alma reflects on their illicit relationship and whether she should share the details with her grandson.