While interviewing in Japan for the Washington Post in 1991-92, journalist Bumiller chronicled through an interpreter a year in the life of Mariko, "an ordinary Japanese woman," and her family and neighborhood. Her struggle to balance her own needs with those of her family is a "reminder that certain universalities transcend borders." Like the author's May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons (LJ 5/1/90), about Indian women, Mariko is best suited to young adults despite its occaisional clichs. In 1910 Makiko Nakano (1890-1978) was a newlywed daughter-in-law with responsibilities in a busy family community that functioned both as a residence and as a store. Likable, assiduous Makiko detailed changes taking place in her early-20th-century Japanese town and domestic life in her diary. Nakano Takashi's 1981 publication of his mother's record is in Japanese-language collections of many university libraries. Translator Smith (Japanese, Cornell Univ., ret.), who is associated with the creation of The Diary of a Japanese Innkeeper's Daughter (Cornell Univ. East Asia Program, 1984), provides all the relevant explication, notes, maps, and illustrations a researcher of modern Japanese social history could desire. Both works offer insights into the daily lives of 20th-century Japanese women and help dispel the mythology; both are recommended for public library and women's studies collections, though Makiko's Diary is essential for academic and scholarly libraries.-Helen Rippier Wheeler, formerly with SLIS, Univ. of California-Berkeley,
"Washington Post" feature writer Bumiller studied Indian women in "May You Be the Mother of One Hundred Sons" (1990). Here, by capturing a single family's experiences, she explores a nation that "likes to think of itself as one large family." Over 14 months in 1991 and 1992, Bumiller (and interpreter Sachiko Kamazuka) talked with the pseudonymous Tanaka family, particularly with Mariko, the 44-year-old wife of Takeshi, mother of two sons and a daughter aged 10 to 16--and a daughter herself, who moved her family into her parents' home to care for them in their old age, as well as holder of two part-time jobs and active in school and neighborhood organizations. In a sense, Mariko and her husband spent the year of Bumiller's visits in midlife crises, recognizing the dreams they had not (and would not) achieve and viewing their futures with some dismay. But Bumiller's narrative gracefully explores the strength of the Tanakas' commitment to family, the responsibility Mariko in particular feels to both children and parents, and the complexity of the spouses' feelings about each other. A nuanced, "inside" view of Japanese life.
"A rich, sustained look at real life in middle-class Tokyo....full of cultural insight.... Her discussions of [Japanese society] are clear, well-reported and skillfully interwoven with the portrait of Mariko"Kyoko Mori, The New York Times Book Review