Friday, March 7, 2008
So Far from the Bamboo Grove, Yoko Kawashima Watkins
A detailed and compelling memoir that has resurrected clashes of old tensions between Koreans and Japanese. Eleven-year-old Yoko and her family must move from Naman, North Korea, at the end of World War II and the end of the Japanese occupation. The father is imprisoned, mother is ill, yet she and two daughters take a journey of peril, separation, poverty and hunger to be repatriated to wartorn Japan. Once there, they live in a bomb ruin and attempt to go to school (Yoko is befriended by the janitor who saves paper and pencil stubs for her), while their mother searches for her son and husband. The story has been criticized as being an unfair portrait of Koreans, when they were the people and culture subjugated by the Japanese; and for incorrect (and prejudicial) information about Korean participation in the Pacific War. Labeled Young Adult.