21st Century Manzanar Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of 21st Century Manzanar

When the story opens, fierce economic war has broken out between the U.S. and Japan. Disease and racist violence have decimated Japanese-American numbers. David Takeda, a Sansei (third generation Japanese-American) in his late 40s from the Venice Beach area, has been reduced to earning his living by delivering eulogies for deceased relations and friends. His brother Johnny is beaten to death before they get to the internment camp at Manzanar, in the desert of eastern California, but sister Kate and her children make it to camp. The bulk of the book recreates camp life and the characters' hopes for escape. Though there is naturally much Japanese-American content (even a 6-page glossary of Japanese and slang terms in the back), this is a highly multicultural novel. David's best friends are a black man and a Hispanic lesbian; also, Miyake significantly plays up the similarities in physiognomy, behavior, and values between Japanese and Southwest Native Americans. In camp one gets to know an alleged half Chinese, half Korean character -- a gay man named Bradley Kuwata, who serves as both a clown and an eventual saviour. The villains of the story -- particularly a Nurse Ratched-like camp director and a recurring soldier-guard figure -- are a little too unidimensional and caricatured (but this IS a satire), however the "good guys" are complex, ambivalent, and given to fatal changes of mind ... and their body count jarringly high. Obviously, anyone with a Japanese background will easily slip into the milieu of this story, but I think even gaijin may find it worthwhile, for its grittiness, detail, and odd shifts of style and perspective.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of 21st Century Manzanar

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 30%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% Tone of book    -   cynical or dry-wit FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Repressive society story    -   Yes Repressive because:    -   strict rationing of freedoms/goods Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   40's-50's


Terrain    -   Desert Earth setting:    -   near future (later in 21st century) Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   description of breasts    -   descript. of private male anat.    -   rape/molest (yeech!) How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Perry Miyake Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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