Sansei and Sensibility
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About the Author
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of seven books, including I Hotel, finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Letters to Memory, all published by Coffee House Press. Recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is Professor Emerita of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Longlisted for the 2020 Believer Book Award in Fiction
Kirkus, "Best Fiction of 2020"
Poets & Writers, "New and Noteworthy Books
Esquire, "Best Books of Spring 2020"
Literary Hub, "Most Anticipated Books of 2020"
Salon.com, "Must Read Spring Books"
Refinery29, "Best Spring Books of 2020"
"The range of characters, sparkling humor, connective themes, and creative ambition all showcase Yamashita's impressive powers." --Publishers Weekly, , starred review
"An elegantly written, wryly affectionate mashup of Jane Austen and the Japanese immigrant experience. . . . Yamashita's reimagining of Austen is sympathetic and funny--and as on target as the movie Clueless." --Kirkus, starred review
"Sansei and Sensibility challenges and delights, while laying bare the familial loyalties we work to preserve and eschew." --Boston Globe
"Karen Tei Yamashita is a contemporary virtuoso of milieu. . . . As gently humorous and entertaining as it is innovative and thought-provoking, Sansei and Sensibility is full of truths universally acknowledged, delivered in one of the most astute, idiosyncratic and important voices writing in America today." --Star Tribune
"Karen Tei Yamashita contends with the Western canon in this astute, pitch-perfect, and wryly funny short story collection. Yamashita recasts Jane Austen characters as Japanese Americans navigating themes familiar to anyone who has read Austen and her contemporaries--social tension, familial obligation, clumsy personal growth, all of the mundanities that add up to meaning--through the lens of Japanese immigrant and Japanese American experiences. A genuine pleasure to read." --Buzzfeed
"A dazzling array of short stories. . . . Yamashita explores the question of inheritance--of how and what we inherit from our cultures, families, and histories--with poignant insight and humor." --Preety Sidhu and Jae-Yeon Yoo, Electric Literature
"[C]ompelling. . . . Yamashita is a clever and spare writer. In many of her touching, surreal short stories, she uses Austen as a springboard into tales featuring Japanese Americans in California. . . . Yamashita's writing echoes the pain and strength of the Japanese American experience. A potent mashup of Austen and Japanese American culture, Sansei and Sensibility is both entertaining and profound." --BookPage
"Exciting. . . . remarkable. . . . The tone of Sansei and Sensibility is lighthearted, yes, but under the surface is outrage against persistent racism and hierarchies of cultural influence that make evoking Austen here less an act of playful transposition and more a provocation. . . . ironic, wry, playful, with bright, shimmering surfaces and undercurrents strong and political." --Ariel Djanikian, The Rumpus
"[I]t's in the section's later stories that [Yamashita's] trademark flamboyance comes forth and you can really feel her mind at work. It's that torrent of voice she can spin out of anything, whether riffing on a visit to the gastroenterologist in 'Colono: Scopy' or testing out Marie Kondo's world-famous tidying methods in 'KonMarimasu'. . . . It doesn't take a Janeite to enjoy these stories, or to sense that Yamashita's engagement with Austen runs somewhere between pastiche and parody." --Jed Munson, Full Stop
" What do you get when Jane Austen meets the Japanese-American community of contemporary California? This smart, witty, perfectly pitched collection of stories--definitely the best Austen adaptation since Clueless." --Refinery29
"Karen Tei Yamashita is one of America's great unsung geniuses . . . Here she's mapped a series of stories onto the plots of Jane Austen novels, telling the tales of Japanese immigrants to the United States through the lens of their shared themes: inheritance, marriage, familial heritage. Yamashita is writing some of her finest stories yet." --Literary Hub
"The range of characters, sparkling humor, connective themes, and creative ambition all showcase Yamashita's impressive powers." --Buzzfeed
"A dynamic collection. . . . Yamashita reconsiders canonical works, questions cultural inheritance, and experiments with genre and form." --The Millions
"Yamashita's latest work sparks joy and acknowledges pain, remembers history and sources pop culture, traverses the modern American West, and returns to Japanese traditions--all in under 200 pages. By the book's finale, the only thing you'll want to do is pick up everything Yamashita has ever written. . . . Yamashita seamlessly incorporates the Sansei experience into all seven of Austen's timeless stories, and the result is brilliant, impactful, and of course, hysterical. . . . An unmissable work." --Paperback Paris
"Yamashita's dizzying amalgamation of fiction and history results in something that is both speculative and truthful. . . . Offers such Sansei/Janeite delights as an LA County Mansfield Park, a 1960s Emma with revolutionary inclinations, and a Lady Susan consisting of post-war postcards and aerograms between Tokyo and California. . . . A gratifying jigsaw puzzle of a book, certain to enrapture readers with both its individual pieces and the larger picture those pieces create." --Arkansas International
"Dazzling. An extraordinarily inventive collection of short stories that takes us from Japan to Brazil to the fractured heart of suburban postwar Japanese America. Whether she is riffing on Jane Austen, channeling Jorge Luis Borges, or meditating on Marie Kondo, Yamashita is a brilliant and often subversive storyteller in superb command of her craft."--Julie Otsuka
"Through vignettes, recipes, and correspondence, master writer Karen Tei Yamashita takes us through the rabbit hole of Japanese America--in particular, her hometown of Gardena, California, where an ethnic community culturally transformed a middle-class bedroom town. Part Ozu meditation of everyday life, part modern folk tale with colorful characters like a truth-telling dental hygienist, Sansei and Sensibility offers a unique and necessary perspective of what it means to be the aging grandchild of Asian immigrants, wondering what you will leave behind for the next generation. As in all of her books, Yamashita deconstructs form and genre to create a work that both delights and challenges&rdquo --Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-winning author of Snakeskin Shamisen and Hiroshima Boy
"This capacious collection is witty, sharp--funny at times, angry at times--always amazing, and never, never dull. I think Jane Austen would be surprised, but delighted. I surely am." --Karen Joy Fowler
Praise for Karen Tei Yamashita Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction
"This powerful, deeply felt, and impeccably researched fiction is irresistibly evocative and overwhelming in every sense.&rdquo--Publishers Weekly
&ldquoShaped and voiced with literary flair, this is clearly a book Yamashita felt compelled to write, and her sense of purpose makes this historical excavation feel deeply personal.&rdquo--Kirkus
"Yamashita incorporates satire and the surreal in prose that is playful yet knowing, fierce yet mournful.&rdquo--San Francisco Chronicle