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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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← 210 | 211 → Images


from America’s Concentration Camps, Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987, 60-61.© courtesy of Kimi Kodani Hill, 2011.

← 212 | 213 → Figure 4: Frank Okada. Aestival Body, 1960, oil on canvas, 71 x 60 inches.© courtesy of The Estate of Frank Okada / Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, 2011.

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