Books & Conversations Past Events
I Thought the Sun Was God by Masako Kimura Streling
In this moving memoir, Masako Kimura Streling details her painful childhood growing up in a poor Okinawan fishing village on the eve of World War II. Feeling that she was destined to make a difference, Streling embarked on a journey that took her across the Pacific Ocean and eventually led to spiritual redemption.
City Girls: The Nisei Social World in Los Angeles, 1920-1950 by Valerie J. Matsumoto
During the 1920s and ’30s, Nisei girls’ organizations flourished in Los Angeles, then home to the largest Japanese American population. In clubs with names such as the Junior Misses and Tartanettes, girls learned leadership skills and took part in community service; they also enjoyed beach outings and parties. Often sponsored by the YWCA, Buddhist temples, and Christian churches, these groups served as a bulwark again racial discrimination, offering a welcoming space that helped young women navigate between parental expectations and the lure of popular culture.
City Girls examines the clubs and activities through which urban Nisei daughters claimed modern femininity, an American identity, and public space before and after the war.
When Half is Whole by Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu
"I listen and gather people's stories. Then I write them down in a way that I hope will communicate something to others, so that seeing these stories will give readers something of value. I tell myself that this isn't going to be done unless I do it, just because of who I am. It's a way of making my mark, leaving something behind...not that I'm planning on going anywhere right now."
So explains Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu in this touching, introspective, and insightful examination of mixed race Asian American experiences. The son of an Irish American father and Japanese mother, Murphy-Shigematsu uses his personal journey of identity exploration and discovery of his diverse roots to illuminate the journeys of others. Throughout the book, his reflections are interspersed among portraits of persons of biracial and mixed ethnicity and accounts of their efforts to answer a seemingly simple question: Who am I?
Here we meet Norma, raised in postwar Japan, the daughter of a Japanese woman and an American serviceman, who struggled to make sense of her ethnic heritage and national belonging. Wei Ming, born in Australia and raised in the San Francisco of the 1970s and 1980s, grapples as well with issues of identity, in her case both ethnic and sexual. We also encounter Rudy, a "Mexipino"; Marshall, a "Jewish, adopted Korean"; Mitzi, a "Blackinawan"; and other extraordinary people who find how connecting to all parts of themselves also connects them to others.
With its attention on people who have been regarded as "half" this or "half" that throughout their lives, these stories make vivid the process of becoming whole.
Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara
The first in a new series by Naomi Hirahara featuring LAPD bicycle cop Ellie Rush!
Bike cop Ellie Rush dreams of becoming a homicide detective, but it’s still a shock when the first dead body she encounters on the job is that of a former college classmate.
At the behest of her Aunt Cheryl Toma, the highest-ranking Asian American officer in the LAPD (a source of pride for Ellie’s grandmother, but annoyance to her mom), Ellie becomes tangled in the investigation of the coed’s murder—with equal parts help and hindrance from her nosy best friend, her over-involved ex-boyfriend, a smoldering detective, and seemingly everyone else in her extended family…only to uncover secrets that a killer may go to any lengths to ensure stay hidden.
Nikkei Baseball by Samuel Regalado
Author Samuel Regalado will talk about his book and the history and importance of baseball in the Japanese American community. In the book, he explores key historical factors such as Meji-era modernization policies in Japan, American anti-Asian sentiments, internment during WWII, the postwar transition, economic and educational opportunities in the 1960s, the developing concept of a distinct “Asian American” identity, and Japanese Americans’ rise to the major leagues with star players including Lenn Sakata and Kurt Suzuki and even mangers such as the Seattle Mariners’ Don Wakamatsu.
Breaking Silences: Uncovering Memories of Japanese American Imprisonment
Joining Dempster is project participant Toru Saito, along with prominent Nisei writer, Wakako Yamauchi, whose granddaughter Alyctra Matsushita, will read excerpts from Yamauchi’s dazzling story collection, Rosebud (University of Hawaii, 2011, edited by Lillian Howan).
Co-sponsored by Collecting Los Angeles, a program of UCLA Library Special Collections.