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Art, Literature, and the Japanese American Internment

On John Okada’s "No-No Boy"


Thomas Girst

How can art, how can prose and poetry originate in spite of the restraints of manipulation, propaganda, and censorship? This study explores such issues by focusing on the cultural trajectory of Japanese American internment, both during and after World War II. Previously unknown documents as well as interviews with friends and family reveal new aspects of John Okada’s (1923–1971) life and writing, providing a comprehensive biographical outline of the author. The book refutes the assumption that Okada’s novel No-No Boy was all but shunned when first published in 1957. A close reading as well as a comparative study involving Italo Calvino’s (1923–1985) Six Memos for the Next Millennium (1985) position Okada’s only book as world literature.
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About the author

About the author


Thomas Girst studied Humanities at Hamburg and New York University. He was founding editor of Die Aussenseite des Elementes (1991-2003), the NY-based cultural correspondent for the German daily Die Tageszeitung as well as research manager of the Art Science Research Laboratory. Since 2003, Girst has been Head of Cultural Engagement at the BMW Group. He lectures at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. His most recent publications include The Duchamp Dictionary (London, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2014) and BMW Art Cars (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2014).

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