No-No Boy

(Author) (Afterword by)
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Product Details
University of Washington Press
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author
John Okada was born in Seattle in 1923. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, attended the University of Washington and Columbia University, and died of a heart attack at the age of 47. No-No Boy is his only published novel.

"The book, newly relevant today, evolves into a group portrait of immigrant parents and American children, conflicted veterans and no-no boys, those back home from the camps and those repatriated to Japan alike, all trying to move on from the same injustice."

--Nicholas Kulish "New York Times"

"No-No Boy is not simply a forceful piece of Asian American literature, but also a realistic account of how war and social injustices affect the psychology of Japanese Americans across generations. . . . Presenting the trauma of Japanese Americans and their coping process, No-No Boy is itself and effort to break the silence and counter social amnesia."

-- "Inquiries Journal"

"The book is still the great Japanese American tragedy, whose power and authenticity derives from the unexpressed rage of his generation that Okada pours into his characters."

--Frank Abe "International Examiner"

"It's incorrect to say that No-No Boy is a forgotten masterwork . . . but it isn't often acknowledged for articulating what had never been said before. The novel was a turning point in the consciousness of Japanese-Americans, and of Asian-Americans more generally--it marked the moment when identity shifted away from the homeland, away from Japan, because Japan was a country that Nisei, like Okada, never really quite knew. It was a novel that struggled to understand the entitlement that came so easily to other Americans--to explain why so few Japanese-Americans protested what had been done to them, that explored the shame of an immigrant who doesn't feel he has a place in the world."

-- "T: The New York Times Style Magazine"

"I think back to John Okada, who fought in World War II even though his Japanese-American family was in an internment camp. Okada came back from the war and published No-No Boy in 1957, the first novel dealing with the little-known story of Japanese-American draft resisters. . . . Thinking back to writers like Sui Sin Far, Carlos Bulosan and John Okada, it is clear that genius is too often unrecognized in its day."

--Viet Thanh Nguyen "New York Times"

"Reading No-No Boy, this week, it no longer seemed bound to its past; it felt like a prophecy, a cosmic tragedy, a message in a bottle that arrives a half century later."

--Hua Hsu "Page-Turner"

"Asian American readers will appreciate the sensitivity and integrity with which the late John Okada wrote about his own group. He heralded the beginning of an authentic Japanese American literature."

--Gordon Hirabayashi "Pacific Affairs"

"Nisei will recognize the authenticity of the idioms Okada's characters use, as well as his descriptions of the familiar Issei and Nisei mannerisms that make them come alive."

--Bill Hosokawa "Pacific Citizen"

"[This new edition] brings Okada's groundbreaking work to a new generation . . . an internee and enlisted man himself, [Okada] wrote in a raw, brutal stream of consciousness that echoes the pain and intergenerational conflict faced by those struggling to reconcile their heritage to the concept of an American dream."

--Nancy Powell "Shelf Awareness"

"It is both an important document of Japanese American and Pacific Northwest history and a compelling novel."

--Emily Lutenski "Pacific Northwest Quarterly"

"No-No Boy may be read as a test of character, questioning the rigid binary of loyalty--yes or no--and teaching us what makes us human and complex, what constitutes character, are all the questions and cares that exist between yes and no: ethical and political choices, our best intentions, our social and cultural being, beliefs, courage, fears, failures, and compassion. More than half a century later, Okada's novel challenges us once again with the question of character, asking us, as individuals and as a society, what we are made of."

--Karen Tei Yamashita "Atlantic"

"In 2019, No-No Boy is bigger than it's ever been."

--Vince Schleitwiler "The Margins"

"A slow-building 1957 novel about a young Japanese-American who, after the Second World War, is searching for a way to express his psychological anguish. . . . Okada died in 1971, unaware that his book had been discovered by a younger generation."

--Hua Hsu "The New Yorker"

"It may be one of the only true classics of Japanese fiction that most Japanophiles have never heard of. No-No Boy . . . unravels the complicated, varied perspectives of Japanese-Americans in the aftermath of World War II under the shadow of the internment camps of the American northwest. . . . For the fascinating, multiple perspectives that unfold to reveal one important point in history, the novel deserves its place as a classic."

-- "Japan Times"

"Out of the brutal struggle against racism and anger, Okada finds hope."

--Martha Viehmann "NPR - Code Switch"

"No-No Boy has been at the heart of the Asian American literary canon, where it is often treated as a quasi-miraculous artifact that prophesied a literary renaissance that would only come to fruition after the author's death."

-- "Los Angeles Review of Books"

"No-No Boy should be read as a salutary reminder of the tragic aftermath of Pearl Harbor, as the story of the distress of a young rebel torn between two societies, but also as a literary testimony to the mass political violence around human rights."

-- "En attendant Nadeau"

"[S]eminal novel...a significant book that influenced many Asian American writers who came after Okada."

-- "New York Magazine"