No-No Boy

( 8 )

Overview

" No-No Boy has the honor of being the very first Japanese American novel," writes novelist Ruth Ozeki in her new foreword to John Okada’s classic of Asian American literature. First published in 1956, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and the Japanese internment behind them. It was not until the mid-1970s that a new generation of Japanese American writers and scholars recognized the novel’s importance and popularized it as one of literature’s...

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Overview

" No-No Boy has the honor of being the very first Japanese American novel," writes novelist Ruth Ozeki in her new foreword to John Okada’s classic of Asian American literature. First published in 1956, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and the Japanese internment behind them. It was not until the mid-1970s that a new generation of Japanese American writers and scholars recognized the novel’s importance and popularized it as one of literature’s most powerful testaments to the Asian American experience.

No-No Boy tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version of the real-life "no-no boys." Yamada answered "no" twice in a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to the United States. Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro earns two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle. As Ozeki writes, Ichiro’s "obsessive, tormented" voice subverts Japanese postwar "model-minority" stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man’s "threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world."

The first edition of No-No Boy since 1979 presents this important work to new generations of readers.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

Pacific Affairs - Gordon Hirabayashi

Asian American readers will appreciate the sensitivity and integrity with which the late John Okada wrote about his own group. He heralded the beginning of an authentic Japanese American literature.

Pacific Citizen - Bill Hosokawa

Nisei will recognize the authenticity of the idioms Okada’s characters use, as well as his descriptions of the familiar Issei and Nisei mannerisms that make them come alive.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295955254
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1979
  • Pages: 260
  • Sales rank: 199,571
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.47 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

John Okada was born in Seattle in 1923. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, attended the University of Washington and Columbia University, and died of a heart attack at the age of 47. No-No Boy is his only published novel.

University of Washington Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction / Lawrence Fusao InadaPrefaceAfterword: In Search of John Okada / Frank Chin

University of Washington Press

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 15, 2010

    A forgotten struggle (may contain spoilers)

    It shows a racial struggle that is rarely noticed or acknowledged. What we as a country did to the Japanese was a hypocritical crime on humanity. Hypocritical because we were fighting the Nazi's who kept concentration camps of their own (granted no Japanese were killed). What Ichiro did was the right thing to do in his position. If my freedom was stolen by a country that was supposed to be free I would not fight another country to protect a freedom that was already taken away from me. Those Japanese young men were expected to prove that they were true Americans as if they had never truly been American. This is an excellent book by an Asian author (a rarity) that has given me an equally excellent new perspective on society in America. A lot of action happens; Kenji dies, Ichiro's mother dies, Taro runs away, Freddie dies (there's a lot of death). It was easy to read and I found myself picking it up at least a few times a day. And although it was for the most part a rather morbid book it ends in an optimistic light which is crucial for a book to have any positive effect on a reader.The novel in its whole is a good look into the perspective of a man who is an outcast by his country. Although John Okada did actually serve in World War two his perspective is still valid. Why it took so long for these people to be recognized as legitimate protesters instead of criminals I have no idea. Overall an extremely well done book written by a very good author about an interesting issue that is usually overlooked in history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    No-No boy review

    In this book, Ichiro¡¯s family was forced to move to the camp after Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It is true that hundreds thousands of Japanese Americans were forced to leave their home and business and to move to relocation camp by Executive Order 9066 signed by the president Roosevelt in reason that the American government didn¡¯t trust their loyalty to America. Thus, this book is historically accurate. In the book, Ichiro¡¯s family was forced to move to the camp and separated in the camp. Moreover, Ichiro is jailed because he refused to go to army and refuse to declare the allegiance to America. This is the reason that he is called as No-No boy. This book is mostly telling about life of Japanese Americans after Japan lost in World War II. Japanese Americans were segregated in society because they were Japanese even though they were born in America and have lived decades in America. They were hard to get a job and other people harassed them. They were also suffered by their identity that they neither think that they are Japanese nor American. Some of people in the book didn¡¯t believe that Japan lost in the war and being panic when they learn truth. They lost everything during World War II including home, business, and their civil rights as U.S. citizen and pride as their native of Japan. Students can learn more about life of Japanese American during and after World War II because the textbook doesn¡¯t tell how Japanese Americans were suffered in racism and how they lost their civil rights, and their panic in their identity. The readers can also think about current racism and civil rights issues through this book. I would recommend this book rate 5 out of 5. This book well described about how racism and prejudice by native gave suffers to Japanese Americans during World War II and after that. This issue can be important because still in America, Racism and civil rights are big impact to society, so by this book, we can understand current issues by comparing with those in World War II. I satisfied my choice of this book and I would highly recommend this book to other person.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2011

    Angry But Beautiful

    Really angry, but also extremely beautiful prose. If you've ever felt like an outsider, this is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2005

    No-No Boy: A forgotten result of WWII

    I think like many Americans, I was quite unaware of the environment in which those Japanese men who choose not to fight in WWII were subjected to after the war. To be quite honest, I had never even heard the term no-no boy until I read this book. This is definitly an important part of American history that has easily fallen through the cracks. However, Okada does an outstanding job in telling a tale that demonstrates some interesting aspects to the societal conditions that followed Japanese Internment and for those Japanese American boys who chose not to fight, prison. In this book, Okada takes a reader through a touching journey as Ichiro, a young Japanese-American who followed his mothers wishes and choose not to fight in WWII, becomes a no-no boy and goes to prison for two years. It is his experiences that he has after prison in the town that he came from that are so relevant to this book. I think that it was Okada's purpose in writing this text to tell the forgotten story of any no-no boy. Through his character Ichiro, he is able to descibe the emotion and societal frustration that these men probably experienced as they returned to their homes as no-no boys. The layout of the plot is simple and yet well developed and a bit complicated as you read about the characters and their different interpretations to the world around them. Ichiro is a valuable character because it is through his relationships with the other characters that we see the different points of view of a no-no boy. Through Ichiro's friend Kenji, who fought and will die of an uncurable battle wound, we hear the unspoken truth concerning those who condenm no-no boys. 'They think just because they went and packed a rifle they're different but the aren't and they know it. They're still Japs' (163). Kenji recognizes that the frustration Japanese Americans felt concerning ethnic heritage is related to how The United States had treated them because of it and the condenming of a no-no boy is just an artificial way to try and distinguish themselves as something else. While Kenji's viewpoint is just one of the many concerning no-no boys and the treatment of Japanese Americans, it is so valuable to Ichiro directly. Overall, I think that this book has a facinating story to tell and will expand the foundation for interpretation concerning no-no boys for those who decide to read it. It is worthwhile and I plan on reading it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    magnificent

    This book is a wonderful study of the search for an identity when the only worlds you know are ones that want no part of you or you want no part of them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2003

    From jail to a harsh reality

    Ichiro spent WWII in internment camps and jail; he was in the camps because he was Japanese and he was in jail because he refused to fight for America. When he came back, he had to face ostracism from the still-frightened whites. More importantly, he was rejected by the majority of Japanese Americans. The authors writing style involved too many winding sentences for my tastes. I never felt anything; be it admiration, sympathy, or hatred; for any of the characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2002

    West Coast after WWII

    Ichiro is returning to his home in Seattle after spending time in an internment camp and serving a 2 year prison sentence for refusing to serve in the US armed forces in WWII. He is challenged to achieve a strong sense of community and a national identity during an era when many Japanese Americans are similarly conflicted about the events that took place during and immediately following the war. No-No Boy is a man's journey towards uncovering the elements and integrity that defines one's self through beauty and pain, friendship and solitude, anguish and peace.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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