Joy Kogawa: "Obasan"

Obasan is one of the books I had to read for the course "Canadian Literature & Multiculturalism" and deals with Canadian citizens of Japanese origin who are interned as public enemies during WW2. This highly autobiographical novel is stunning in its quietness. In fact, we encounter the injustice and horrors only through the timid eyes of Naomi, the little girl of the family, and through the outspoken and "adult" letters Aunt Emily (who actually manages to escape the camps) writes to her sister.
This story shows the vulnerability of children of immigrants, how citizenship and the thereby aquired rights do not matter anymore when the country of origin is declared war on. Third generation of immigrants, who call themselves Canadians by their culture and affiliation, have been ripped of their rights not so long ago in a country that adorns itself with the supposed successes of multiculturalism.
This book tells the story of those many people and is well worth a read, even if not everyone will like the style of writing or the constant switching between different spaces of time.


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Constantly changing places is inherent to my life. Books have always been steady friends which I could bump into wherever I was all over the world.
Stumbling upon Kaminer's German stories of "Die Reise nach Trulala" in Reykjavík's city library is as moving as meeting the Icelandic sagas in Boston's Borders.
To see a book again, that I've read thousands of kilometers away makes me smile "Hey I know you.." and shake hands by thumbing through it for a while.