Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List
“At midlife, historian Ben Ohara renews his effort to write the paper that will secure his academic reputation, 'Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire.' However, he discovers himself exploring the events behind the many secrets in his family -- including his parents' internment during World War II and his brother's disappearance. Book groups will find this a rich book for discussion.”
— Sally Wizik Wills, Sister Wolf Books, Park Rapids, MN
"There is no writer that dives deeper (or more bravely) into the chasm that is the human heart. David Mura's] first novel is a tour de force: luminously written and by turns crafty, tough, wise, and joyful."--Junot Diaz
Ben Ohara is the sole surviving member his family. A troubled and brilliant astrophysicist, Ben's younger brother has mysteriously vanished in the Mojave Desert. His father, one of a small group of WWII draft resisters (known as the No-No Boys) during the internment of Japanese Americans, committed suicide when Ben was young. And his mother, whose wish to escape the past was as strong as his father's ties to it, has died with her secrets.
Now struggling to support his wife and children and under pressure to complete his historical study, Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire, Ben realizes that the key to unlocking the future lies in reassessing the past.
As Ben vividly recalls a childhood colored by the tough Chicago streets, horror movie monsters, sci-fi villains, Japanese folktales, and TV war heroes, he begins to understand the profound difference between coming of age and becoming a man. And by retracing his brother's footsteps and returning to the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp, Ben uncovers a truth that has the power to set him free.
An acclaimed memoirist, poet, and playwright, David Mura is one of America's most insightful cultural critics. His memoirs, Turning Japanese and Where the Body Meets Memory, along with his poems, essays, plays, and performances, have won wide critical praise and numerous awards. Visit his website at www.davidmura.com.
About the Author
An acclaimed memoirist, poet, and playwright, David Mura is one of America's most candid social critics. His memoirs, Turning Japanese and Where the Body Meets Memory, along with his poems, essays, plays, and performances, have won wide critical praise for their insightful analysis of the connections between cultural identity, interracial relationships, and the legacies of American history.