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Brazil-Maru
     

Brazil-Maru

by Karen Tei Yamashita, Karen T. Yamashita
 

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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

Overview


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.-Kirkus

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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 Jen

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Yamashita offers an enriching fictionalization of the settling of the northwestern corner of Brazil by socialist Japanese Christians. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566890168
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Publication date:
09/28/1993
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

Meet the Author


Heralded as a "big talent" by the Los Angeles Times, Karen Tei Yamashita is an American Book Award and Janet Heidinger Kafka Award winner. A California native who has also lived in Brazil and Japan, she is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California-Santa Cruz, where she received the Chancellor's Award for Diversity in 2009.

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