Obasan

( 29 )

Overview

This powerful, passionate, and highly acclaimed novel tells, through the eyes of a child, the moving story of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Naomi is a sheltered and beloved 5-year-old when Pearl Harbor changes her life.

Separated from her mother, she watches as she and her family become enemy aliens, persecuted and despised in their own land. Surrounded by hardship and pain, Naomi is protected by the resolute endurance of her aunt, Obasan, and the silence of ...

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Overview

This powerful, passionate, and highly acclaimed novel tells, through the eyes of a child, the moving story of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Naomi is a sheltered and beloved 5-year-old when Pearl Harbor changes her life.

Separated from her mother, she watches as she and her family become enemy aliens, persecuted and despised in their own land. Surrounded by hardship and pain, Naomi is protected by the resolute endurance of her aunt, Obasan, and the silence of those around her. Only after Naomi grow up does he return to question that haunting silence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This quiet novel burns in your hand." —Washington Post.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780864923042
  • Publisher: Goose Lane Editions
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Series: Between the Covers Classics Series
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: First edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 5.49 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Joy Kogawa was born in Vancouver in 1935. Like other Japanese Canadians, she and her family were interned and persecuted during the Second World War. Obasan is based on Kogawa's own experiences and on letters and documents of the time. Kogawa is a member of the Order of Canada and has authored four books of poetry, a book for children, and two other novels. Obasan won the 1981 Books in Canada First Novel Award and the 1982 CAA Book of the Year Award.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    recommended

    From the first two chapters it sucks you in you can't stop reading. It is the best book I have read in a very long time

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2008

    A novel of silence

    This is a story about a family's hardships during World War II in Canada and Japan. Most importantly, it is a story of a woman's powerful silence. The novel is full of symbolic meanings, hidden secrets, and childhood memories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2007

    beautiful writing

    The writing style, the poetic descriptions of this story were brilliant. Several times I re-read phrases, sentences over and over because they were so amazingly perfect. The story is powerful but I fell in love with the writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    You need patience

    This book is packed with too much descriptive words that if often got me bored and impatient with the message. The flow of events is extremely slow, and oftentimes the author adds Japanese words that she doesn't explain the meaning of and throw the reader off.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    ... Whoa.

    Poetic to the heart and a big whoa. It has a big impact on the reader AND a writer. Emotion filled confusion is dominates the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2005

    Obasan is a good book!

    I have read Obasan once to the half, but reading it again and till the end made me understand everything the author is trying to say. It is about JAPANESE-CANADIANS, who faced discrimination due to the events in World War Two. I think it is better to read a book like this about Japanese-Canadian treatments during World War Two, because to understand what they went through can be done more easily through this book, not history books. I recommend book this book if you are a true lover of history... like me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2003

    A powerful book!

    This book is eloquently written and masterfully captures the experiences of Japanese internment in Canada during WWII. A poignant wake-up call. Itsuka, while less compelling, is also a great sequel to this work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2003

    Amazing Story

    This book was an amazing story where it touches on the WW2 discriminations of Japanese in North America, where if I had to listen about this in class, I would have been bored to death.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2003

    Important Book

    I read Obasan for a project in English to relay the theme of prejudice, and I wanted to learn more about the Japanese internment camps during WWII in Canada. I thought Obasan was a really good book in some ways, but it could also be somewhat boring in some places. It's an important novel because of the lessons it teaches. It shows the psychological trauma done to Naomi (she is quiet and introvert) from her experiences, and to her brother Stephen as well. The symbolism in the book was great. I think all Canadians should read this book so they can understand just how damaging prejudice and discrimination are.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2003

    This book is a mixed of emotions including confusion..

    I beleive that Obasan is a good book to discuss espeicially when it comes to Japanese Canadian history. This is a heart warming book and also a desicriptive one which makes it more emotional. However the book became very confusing when the author added some of her poetry and had bad shifting of the past and present. I did not enjoy the book at the beggining of so did my fellow classmates, however after reading and reviewing the book, I realized that connections I didn't see before. The book is truly tragic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2002

    My 8th grade teacher makes me do very complex high school work

    I read this book for my Honors English class year of 2002. I am in the 8th grade. It is amazing that I finished this book and understood most of it at the age of 12. This story is very sad, depressing, and graphic. This story is about a 36 year old woman named Naomi that after her uncles death she begins remembering her dreadful past (partially because of her aunt that won't give up fighting for their rights.) She remembers how her family is shattered by WWII. I feel that the main character (Naomi) is seeking for answers of what had happened to the mother she loved and longed for. There was parts in the story that became very confusing to me because there was times were the character is 36 yeras old and then suddenly the character is a 5 year old child. I only recommend this book to adults and to super advanced young readers (beacuse this book gets really confusing at times.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2001

    Novel of touching emotions and hope

    Obasan is a heat-warming novel that displays the despair and poverty the Japanese in Canada experienced during WWII. The novel recreates the poverty, hopelessness, and loneliness that Naomi, a young Japanese girl born and raised in Canada, must face. However, Naomi's family believes that through the darkness there is always a lighter side. They are confident about the future and what it holds. The novel is extremely emotional and touches the heart with its tragic events that occur. Yet the amount of perserverance and hope that the family manages to maintain is extravagent. It is easy to read but still manages to use euphemistic language to accentuate the novel's style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2001

    HaTe No MoRe

    Obasan was a pretty good book. I hafta say that i got a little bit confused when i first read it. But after re-reading it, i noticed the details. CHARACTERS: Naomi - main character, quiet, single...she is quiet because she was separated from her mother when she was five and had never heard from her ever since. She takes on her mother's character...quiet and calm...she contrast Aunt Emily who is relentlessly persuasive and ona crusade fighting for rights, liberty and freedom. Obasan - quiet, silent, keeps everything inside herself and doesnt know how to express grief (Uncle's death) Stephen - easily irritated, got the typical musician character, tries to deny his japanese heritage...as if he doesnt want to be/like being japanese Aunt Em - warrior, assertive, relentless... always fighting for a cause SYMBOLS & IMAGERY: Stone bread - hard outside, uncle tries to make it like the european ones which r soft, but cant...sorta tells us that u cant b something that you're not; compare to the package from aunt em...which contains the 'hard' truths of the past Ocean/Sea - the wheat field in which uncle and naomi sits in the middle of the nite is like an ocean when a breeze sweeps the wheat and create an affect kinda similar to a wave; high tide, low tides...there are ups and downs in life Nite - uncle and naomi are in the wheat field at nite in da beginning of novel....the moon is clear...moon represents purity...yet also mystery Dawn - at the end of the novel, naomi is at the beginning - the wheat field - except this time...the set is rising...represents a new beginning Blanket - naomi finds a blanket in attic that mother has sewn together but its in shreds now...represents the family that was once together is now in shreds THEME: racial prejudice towards japanese canadians living in cananda during WWII

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2000

    Obason= Wonderfully Terrible

    Obason was the best bad book I have ever read.Everything from it's lame plot to it's underdevoloped characters were marvelous.I couldn't believe the quality of writing, everything from the lack of settings to the confusing words were great.A must read for anyone with a grade 1 vocabulary that likes terrible books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2000

    OBASAN

    As a student I wouldn't read this on my spare time but it's good for a novel study project. I thought this book started off a little slow but it was at the end of this book that actually stood out. There you could actually have a short experience of how the Japanese suffered. This book has quite alot of detail which i didn't like very much. This books also fails to distinguish whether it is being told in the past or present. This made me reread a couple pages back. This book has alot of factual information about the time back then and things that relate to the Japanese culture. Overall, I thought this book was okay. I'd recommend this to people who likes deep and detailed storylines. A book with a similar theme is *Snow Falling On Cedars* . There has been a movie that was just recently out in theatres and now there's a book like that, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2000

    Disturbing but written well

    Hi, I read this book for my Honors English class year of 2000. I am doing this review for my Honors 9 Geography class. This book was about the Japanese-Americans that were forced to move out of their homes and seperated and some were forced to move back to Japan. This book describes in GREAT DEAL how Naomi (the main character in the book who is trying to find out what happened to her mother) gets raped. It also describes gruesome parts like a chicken who gets tortured (also a cat), and in the end how Naomis mother died in GREAT detail. I thought it was a really emotional book because it made me cry when the author described some parts in bloody detail. But then I think that it is very important for people to understand what happened during World War 2. The author uses shocking descriptions, but are nicely written. I would reccomend this book to an older teenager or adult only. If a young child gets their hands on it and reads it, they may be very upset and confused in the end. Which also brings up the point of how confusing the book was. In order to really understand it one needs to pay a lot of attention at every line with what's happening.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2000

    Obason from Branden's point of view

    Obason is a great book about the Japenesse in America. It shows the struggle they went through during WWII from a family point of view. Obason is a great, but sad book about a Japanesse family that gets split apart because Americans thought they were spies. It is defenitly a tear jurker, but I highly recomend you read it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2000

    Definetely not the best book i've ever read

    I am a student at redmond high school. i had to read this book for an honors english 9 project. this book is about Japaneese Americans that live in Canada and are American citizens but because of World War II they are sent back to Japan, the main character is a woman that is trying to find out the truth about her mothers death throughout the whole book.I found this book to be pretty confusing. One paragraph this lady is 36, then in the next paragraph she is 7 or 8, and it keeps jumping around from time period to time period. Even though it was kind of boring it helped me to better understand the struggles Japaneese Americans went through during World War II. The author has a very descriptive writing style. I would reccomend this book to the older people out there:)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2000

    Very Graphic and Detailed

    I read this book, Obasan, for part of an Honors 9 Geography project. I thought this was a rather interesting book, as hard as it was to follow, because of how graphic and detailed everything was. The book kept going into many different flashbacks that got kind of confusing once in awhile, but it really put the Japanese-Canadian people's perspective of how they were badly mis-treated into a great point of view. There were some graphic scenes in the book (like chicks being slaughtered, and Naomi getting raped), but it was described in a way that helped you to understand the culture of the people. I liked the style of writing because it was that descriptive. It really helped me to complete my project by giving me many culturistic viewpoints, ideas on immigration, and how World War II was reacted to in this book. It also helped me to learn about the people in Canada better and what their culture is like. I never knew what the Isei, Nisei, or Sansei were, so I definitely learned something from this book. The presentation of the book was kind of confusing on the author's part, but it had a good plot and very understandable situations. The book was a little bit over my head at times, but most of the time it was fairly understandable. I would really recommend this book if you like to read about people immigrating and such.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2000

    This book is REALLY hard to understand!!!

    I had to read this book for my English 9 Honors class. If you are in the mood to be extremely confused... then I recomend this book to you!!! The story line was great but I felt that the book was meant for an older croud. The book was about a 36 year old Canadian-Japanese woman trying ot find the truth of her past. In one paragraph you can be in present day... then the next sentence you will be 30 years earlier! It's very confusing at times, and it's hard to understand what they say when they talk in Japanese! Over all the story line was ok... but the actual novel wasn't all that great.

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