'Seventeen Syllables': Hisaye Yamamoto by King-Kok Cheung, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
'Seventeen Syllables': Hisaye Yamamoto

'Seventeen Syllables': Hisaye Yamamoto

by King-Kok Cheung
     
 

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Hisaye Yamamoto's often-reprinted tale of a naive American daughter and her Japanese mother captures the essence of the cultural and generational conflicts so common among immigrants and their American-born children. On the surface, "Seventeen Syllables" is the story of Rosie and her preoccupation with adolescent life. Between the lines, however, lurks the tragedy of

Overview

Hisaye Yamamoto's often-reprinted tale of a naive American daughter and her Japanese mother captures the essence of the cultural and generational conflicts so common among immigrants and their American-born children. On the surface, "Seventeen Syllables" is the story of Rosie and her preoccupation with adolescent life. Between the lines, however, lurks the tragedy of her mother, who is trapped in a marriage of desperation. Tome's deep absorption in writing haiku causes a rift with her husband, which escalates to a tragic event that changes Rosie's life forever.
Yamamoto's disarming style matches the verbal economy of haiku, in which all meaning is contained within seventeen syllables. Her deft characterizations and her delineations of sexuality create a haunting story of a young girl's transformation from innocence to adulthood. This casebook includes an introductin and an essay by the editor, an interview with the author, a chronology, authoritative texts of "Seventeen Syllables" (1949) and "Yoneko's Earthquake" (1951), critical essays, and a bibliography. The contributors are Charles L. Crow, Donald C. Goellnicht, Elaine H. Kim, Dorothy Ritsuko McDonald, Zenobia Baxter Mistri, Katharine Newman, Robert M. Payne, Robert T. Rolf, and Stan Yogi.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Imbued with the serenity of authority, these stories ably conduct the reader through the Japanese experience in America, from the oil fields of Redondo Beach to the internment camps of WW II, through the lives of young and old as they confront American customs, manners and culture. Yamamoto's stories also depict the stained relationships between Japanese immigrants and the nisei (American-born Japanese). Yet the author does not confine herself to ethnic issues. In ``The High-Heeled Shoes: A Memoir,'' for example, the subtle forms of sexual harassment are delineated; a woman's obsession with expressing herself through the condensed poetry of haiku, and her husband's objections are explored in the title story. The inexplicable tragedies of everyday life, an inconsolable mourner, a desertion by a friend, the endless quest for an illusory prosperity (as in the stories ``The Brown House'' and ``Las Vegas Charley) are underscored by a forlorn nostalgia for a history and a culture that fails to be transmitted from one generation to the next. Yamamoto, the daughter of Japanese immigrants, makes a welcome American debut.
Library Journal
Yamamoto, winner of the 1986 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Before Columbus Foundation, is a talented and sensitive writer whose work often focuses on the conflict between the Issei (first-generation Japanese Americans) and the Nissei (second-generation Japanese Americans). The two stories collected here are ``Seventeen Syllables'' and ``Yoneko's Earthquake,'' in which the author paints in scant strokes the pain and suffering of Issei mothers through the eyes of Nissei daughters. The accompanying material--interviews with the author, a chronology of highlights from Japanese American history, and critical essays--provides useful background for understanding and teaching the two short stories, upon which Emiko Omori's movie Hot Summer Winds is based. As a more complete collection of Yamamoto's short stories, however, Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories (Kitchen Table, 1988) is a much better buy for most libraries.-- Cherry W. Li, Univ. of Southern California Lib., Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813520537
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
04/01/1994
Series:
Women Writers: Texts and Contexts Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
236
Sales rank:
380,538
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are saying about this

Grace Paley
The writing of history and the telling of stories are in our time very different. But these stories about the daily lives of Japanese American women in and out of the World War II internment camps of the United States are history and her story. The women are gutsy or fragile-that is, like any of us would be caught in exile while at home. The stories are beautifully written so we feel them even more deeply.
Joy Kogawa
You can imagine my delight to learn that a collection of her work is now finally seeing the light of day. How good that feels. At least more people will be touched by the grace that flows through Hisaye Yamamoto's pen. The world be a better place because of it.

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