Books (Non-Fiction )

The hardcover 1st edition from Willow Valley Press, "Dandelion Through the Crack" by Kiyo Sato (former Poston camp II internee) has been sold out!

Look for the new edition, from Soho Press, "Kiyo's Story: A Japanese Family's Quest for the American Dream." (new title)

Winner of the 2008 William Saroyan International Prize for nonfiction book!

Writer Kiyo Sato to Speak at Smithsonian
February 17, 2009

A survivor of the Japanese internment camps, Kiyo Sato, at 85 years young, has lived a remarkable life, and will be sharing her experiences during the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program to mark the 67th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, on Feb. 19 in Washington, D.C.

That order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, led to the internment of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Forced to leave their Sacramento home & farm on May 29, 1942, Sato, the oldest of 9 children, & her family were taken to POSTON Camp II in Arizona.

Born in Sacramento, Sato was 19-yrs-old at the time of the internment & has chronicled her experience in her book "Dandelion Through the Crack: The Sato Family Quest for the American Dream."

Spanning 7 decades, her book published in August 2007, details her father, Shinji, leaving Japan for America in 1911; how her father met her mother Tomomi in Japan in 1922; her family’s life on the family farm in Sacramento, before & after the internment; how she overcame prejudice to become a nurse & rose to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps; a triumphant battle with developers who tried to take the family farm in 1975; and her mother’s passing in 1977.

"I wanted Dandelion to illuminate not only the challenges of prejudice & oppression, but also, & more fundamentally, the triumph of a family despite those challenges," says Sato. “I wanted readers to see life as we lived it, from the early years on a Sacramento strawberry farm, through the trauma of the war years, & rebuilding life afterwards."

Along this journey, she has received awards & accolades for Dandelion Through the Crack. On September 6, 2008, she was awarded the William Saroyan International Prize for writing in nonfiction by Stanford University Libraries, in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation.

Also in 2008, she received the Award of Excellence in Publications from the Sacramento County Historical Society; won the Gold Award for Best First Book from Northern California Publishers & Authors; & was honored for her accomplishments by the California Writers Club, Sacramento Branch, & by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.

Now out of print, Dandelion Through the Crack is being published as Kiyo’s Story: A Japanese-American Family’s Quest For The American Dream by Soho Press.

The National Book Launch for Kiyo’s Story will be on March 28, 2009, at noon, in her hometown of Sacramento at Book Lovers Bookstore, 5800 Madison Ave.

Sato’s story is also available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference.
by Joanne Oppenheim. Scholastic Inc: 2006. ISBN 0-439-56992-3

From the Smithsonian Education webpage

Letters from the Japanese American Internment Camp

Retired engineer Richard "Babe" Karasawa works as a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He grew up in San Diego and was sent to the camps at Santa Anita and Poston, but he did not know of the Miss Breed letters until a few years ago, when the museum received the collection as a gift. While helping to organize the collection, he discovered that he knew many of the writers. David Kikuchi, who wrote the letter on this page, is still a friend of his.

Babe was fourteen at the time of the evacuation; David was nine. Both of them lived in converted horse stables at Santa Anita. One of Babe's most powerful memories is the moment when he and his family were shown their new home, which still smelled of the horses.

"My mom sees it and tears start coming down her face," he said. "My mom says, 'We're not going in there.'"

Babe was in a special position when he worked on the letters. He read them as history, but a history that was part of his own life.

"I was looking for reminders of what things were like," he said. What he found was "a definite inclination not to tell the worst." David's letter sums up the housing at Santa Anita in one statement: "We live in horse stables but there is another room added to the horse stable." Babe laughed when he read this, because it came so far short of describing all that he remembers.

"Many of us found it very difficult to clearly express our emotions," he said. "Generally speaking, we were quiet Americans. I think the tendency was to minimize complaints to anyone outside of our community."

But David Kikuchi, a retired architect, doesn't see it this way at all. His memories of camp life are mostly happy ones. Hikes to the nearby Colorado River and days spent fishing are what stand out in his thoughts of Poston. For him, the internment was "a great adventure" — a long camping trip with his family and all his friends along.

"Maybe it shouldn't have happened, but it did," he said. "Most of us did the best with what we had. There was no sugarcoating at all in those letters."

Both Babe and David say that many factors — including the difference in their age — account for their very different experiences.

1 comment:

Barry Schoenborn said...

Both books are excellent! Actually, both books contain the same text.

If you every can, get a copy of Dandelion Through the Crack, if only for its rarity.

If you buy Kiyo's Story, it's still the same excellent book.

It's a Poston story and much more. Life in California in the early 20th century, and also a call to never let intolerance dominate public affairs.

It's a great surprise, but Kiyo Sato is not bitter -- instead, she is forgiving, but remains indignant.

You might also want to look at the film "Passing Poston," available on DVD.

Barry Schoenborn
Willow Valley Press,
Publisher, Dandelion Through the Crack
Nevada City, California