|Plot Summary 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.
This synopsis report prepared by David Loftus
|Chapter Analysis of 21st Century Manzanar|
Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
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
- strict rationing of freedoms/goods
Is this an adult or child's book?
- Adult or Young Adult Book
- near future (later in 21st century)
Takes place on Earth?
Accounts of torture and death?
- moderately detailed references to deaths
scientific jargon? (SF only)
- none/very little science jargon needed
Sex in book?
What kind of sex:
- description of breasts
- descript. of private male anat.
- rape/molest (yeech!)
How much dialogue?
- significantly more descript than dialog
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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