My Postwar Life

edited by Elizabeth McKenzie
foreword by Karen Tei Yamashita
Chicago Quarterly Review Books

My Postwar Life is a collection of new writing from Japan and Okinawa. The collection includes fiction, poetry, and essays by authors Deni Y. Bechard, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, Hiroshi Fukurai, Ryuta Imafuku, Setsuko Ishiguro, Roland Kelts, Mari Kotani,  Janice Nakao, Kim Shi-Jong, Keijiro Suga, Iona Sugihara, Goro Takano, Stewart Wachs, Stephen Woodhams, and Kentaro Yamaki. A few of the the authors, including Leza Lowitz, Shogo Oketani, Tami Sakiyama, Takayuki Tatsumi, and Katsunori Yamazato are past contributors to MĀNOA Journal.

Also included in My Postwar Life is a play by Masataka Matsuda, an interview with the former mayor of Nagasaki Hitoshi Motoshima, photography by Shomei Tomatsu, and a series of scans made from the illustrated journal of a soldier in the Imperial Army.

Elizabeth McKenzie’s story collection Stop That Girl was short-listed for The Story Prize, and was a Newsday and School Library Journal Best Book of the year. Her novel MacGregor Tells the World was a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the year, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book, and a School Library Journal Top Ten Book of the year. She has received a Pushcart Prize for her short fiction, which has been included in The AtlanticBest American Nonrequired ReadingThreepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and other literary journals. She was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts/Japan-US Friendship Commission Creative Artist Fellowship, and is the editor of My Postwar Life: New Writings from Japan and Okinawa, published in 2012.

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Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa

edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson
University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

Modern Okinawa has been forged by a history of conquest and occupation by mainland Japan and the United States. Its sense of dual subjugation and the propensity of its writers to confront their own complicity with Japanese militarism imbues Okinawa’s literary tradition with insightful perspectives on a wide range of issues, including the ongoing discrimination against ethnic minorities in both Japan and the United States and the conflicting desires for Okinawa’s assimilation to, and autonomy from, mainland Japan.

Okinawa’s literary tradition is as deeply rooted in the region’s lush semi-tropical landscape as it is in history. The writers in Southern Exposure paint scenes of the natural world that simultaneously depict beauty, horror, and depredation. Okinawans’ quest to recover their ancient cultural heritage is haunted by war, occupation, and other forces that are noticeably absent  from the mainstream literature of contemporary Japan, all of which are addressed in Southern Exposure.

Michael Molasky is professor of Japanese at Connecticut College in New London.

Steve Rabson is professor of Japanese at Brown University.

Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas

by Oshiro Tatsuhiro and Higashi Mineo
translated by Steve Rabson
Institute of East Asian Studies, UCB, 1989.

Although the novellas differ sharply in tone and form, both are first-person narratives of individual protagonists whose lives are profoundly affected by the U.S. occupation and military presence. The novellas are presented here in translation together with an introduction providing historical background and a concluding essay that compares and evaluates them. The introduction is intended to supply information that will help the reader understand specific points in the stories. For both essays, the author has drawn on Japanese and English-language sources including materials collected in Okinawa during eight months of a 1967-68 overseas tour in the U.S. Army and on subsequent visits to the island.

Oshiro Tatsuhiro was born in 1925 in Nakagusuku, Okinawa Prefecture. He has published numerous books and articles on Okinawa’s culture and history a well as works of fiction and drama. His work The Cocktail Party was awarded an Akutagawa Prize in 1967.

Higashi Mineo was born in 1938 in Mindanao, The Philippines. His work Child of Okinawa was awarded an Akutagawa Prize in 1971.

Odori

By Darcy Tamayose
Cormorant Books, 2007

Odori is a novel that navigates through the glorious Ryukyuan Kingdom and the Golden Era of the Sho Dynasty, through bloody World War II Okinawa, and over parched prairies of Southern Alberta’s Rainmaker Hills, “all the while exposing human sorrows, indignities, idiosyncrasies, failed faiths, splintered spirits, and an island culture so resilient, so embedded it becomes mythical.” It tells of Mai’s journey into the world of an old kataribe storyteller, the ghost of her great-grandmother, where she hears of Tree Gods, Sky Gods and human lumps of clay, where her mother’s poignant war letters tell of sights and sounds that singe a child’s soul. In this dream world she has fallen into, Mai allows her basan’s tumble of words to fall gently on her ear as she creates painting after painting, sketch after sketch. (Publisher’s description)

Darcy Tamayose has been a writer for Lethbridge Living Magazine for the past ten years. She has attended the Alberta College of Art and the University of Lethbridge, as well as the Humber School for Writers. She lives in Lethbridge with her husband and daughter.