John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author ofNo-No Boy

John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author ofNo-No Boy


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John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author ofNo-No Boy by Frank Abe

No-No Boy, John Okada’s only published novel, centers on a Japanese American who refuses to fight for the country that incarcerated him and his people in World War II and, upon release from federal prison after the war, is cast out by his divided community. In 1957, the novel faced a similar rejection until it was rediscovered and reissued in 1976 to become a celebrated classic of American literature. As a result of Okada’s untimely death at age forty-seven, the author’s life and other works have remained obscure.

This compelling collection offers the first full-length examination of Okada’s development as an artist, placing recently discovered writing by Okada alongside essays that reassess his lasting legacy. Meticulously researched biographical details, insight from friends and relatives, and a trove of intimate photographs illuminate Okada’s early life in Seattle, military service, and careers as a public librarian and a technical writer in the aerospace industry. This volume is an essential companion to No-No Boy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295743516
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication date: 06/01/2018
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 1,206,952
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Frank Abe is a journalist and producer of the PBS documentary Conscience and the Constitution. Greg Robinson is professor of history at Université du Québec a Montréal whose most recent book is The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches. Floyd Cheung is professor of English language and literature and American studies at Smith College and editor of early Asian American literary works by H. T. Tsiang, Sadakichi Hartmann, and others.The contributors are Lawson Fusao Inada, Martha Nakagawa, Stephen H. Sumida, Shawn Wong, and Jeffrey T. Yamashita.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Saying "No! No!" to the Community Narrative Frank Abe 3

A Note on the Texts 11

The Life Of John Okada

"An Urgency to Write" Frank Abe 15

Unknown Works By John Okada

I Must Be Strong 119

When in Japan: a comedy in one act 121

What Can I Do? 142

Without Solace 149

Skipping Millions 158

The Silver Lunchbox 165

Here's Proof! 179

The High Cost of Proposals and Presentations 198

The Technocrats of Industry 204

Essays On John Okada and His Writings

John Okada's Rediscovered Writings: Experiments in Form and Approaches to the Absurd Floyd Cheung 213

A Seed in a Devastated Landscape: John Okada and Midcentury Japanese American Literature Greg Robinson 237

Questioning No-No Boy: Text, Contexts, and Subtexts Stephen H. Sumida 251

False Constructions of Loyalty: The Real Resistance against Incarceration Martha Nakagawa 277

Contesting Japanese American Identity: A Literature Review of No-No Boy Jeffrey T. Yamashita 284

Republishing and Teaching No-No Boy Shawn Wong 295

Nightsong in Asian America Lawson Fusao Inada 302

Afterword Frank Abe 305

Acknowledgments 307

Notes 309

Bibliography 345

List of Contributors 355

Index 357

What People are Saying About This

Naomi Hirahara

Thrilling! A relevant and long-awaited exploration of an American literary hero, John Okada.

Ruth Ozeki

A moving, comprehensive, and wonderfully readable tribute to a pioneer of Asian American Literature. John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work is part eulogy, part pedagogy, part literary excavation, and part scholarly compendium. These editors, scholars and writers have created a monument that will keep John Okada’s work relevant and his legacy alive.

Jamie Ford

Finally, a book that unravels the enigma of John Okada and contextualizes his classic novel. A profound and thorough collection of work that was a joy to read.

Rocio G. Davis

This volume reminds us of the key place of Okada’s novel in the development of Asian American literary history. It makes us consider literary history more cogently, locating No-No Boy as both a literary artifact and as political and social intervention. By proposing new ways of reading and understanding elements—even controversial ones—in the text, this collection of essays highlights how novels that engage history continue to be relevant for new generations.

Paul Spickard

We have long needed a good book on John Okada. No-No Boy is a transformational novel, one of the most important pieces of writing ever in Asian American studies. Creating a context for it by examining the author's life in detail, adding other bits of his writing, and analyzing his oeuvre from all angles is a mighty undertaking, but this is a book we need.

Garrett Kaoru Hongo

John Okada is perhaps still the greatest voice to have reached print from our community. Frank Abe has authored a fine and corrective biography, and the editors have assembled a festschrift of illuminating essays that demonstrate the significance of Okada’s work and its pertinence to our time. This book is a treasure and a compelling tribute to our first literary master. Yes-yes!

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