No-No Boy: Ruth Ozeki Reflects on the Legacy of a Japanese American Classic

An important book that I was assigned twice (I think) when I was an undergraduate.

University of Washington Press Blog

Originally published in 1957,  John Okada‘s No-No Boytells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version of the real-life “no-no boys.” Yamada answered “no” twice in a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to the United States. Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro earns two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle.

As Ruth Ozeki writes in her foreword to the new edition of this classic book, Ichiro’s “obsessive, tormented” voice subverts Japanese postwar “model-minority” stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man’s “threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world.” Here, we feature an excerpt from Ozeki’s  powerful new foreword, which she wrote as a personal letter to John Okada.

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