Despite Flaws, Eyes Behind Belligerence By K.P. Kollenborn Is A Solid Addition To Novels On Japanese American Incarceration Experience

Photo courtesy Erin Carter/K.P. Kollenborn

LOS ANGELES — In the world of novels about the Japanese American Incarceration experience during World War II, there are only a handful of books available, including Monica Sone’s Nisei Daughter, John Okada’s No-No Boy, Yoshiko Uchida’s Desert Exile, and the best known of them all, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her late husband James D. Houston’s Farewell To Manzanar.

But why have there been so few fictional works about the American concentration camps in which over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were unjustly incarcerated during World War II?

One look at those four novels mentioned provides a huge clue: each was written by someone who was incarcerated behind the barbed wire of one of those concentration camps—Sone and Okada were incarcerated at Minidoka in Idaho, Uchida was behind the barbed wire at Topaz in Utah, and Houston was imprisoned at Manzanar in California’s Owens Valley. Each of them drew upon their memories of camp, good and bad, pleasant and painful.

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