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.
|Publisher:||University of Washington Press|
|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
List of Contributors 355
What People are Saying About This
Thrilling! A relevant and long-awaited exploration of an American literary hero, John Okada.
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.
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.
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 elementseven controversial onesin the text, this collection of essays highlights how novels that engage history continue to be relevant for new generations.
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.
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!