Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit (book)

Title Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit
Author Diana Morita Cole
Original Publisher Diaspora Press
Original Publication Date 2015
Pages 193
WorldCat Link

Memoir of a young Nisei woman who was born in the Minidoka, Idaho, concentration camp. The story focuses on her often strained relationships with her parents, grandparents, and eight siblings in 1950s Chicago.

The story begins with Diana's birth in Minidoka. An apparent accident—she is eleven years younger than the next youngest sibling—her birth puts her 44-year-old mother's life in danger, since was "sideways" in the womb. All survive the birth, and Diana's earliest memories are of the Chicago ghetto where most of the family "resettles" after leaving camp. Diana recalls her parents' difficult lives as Issei who eventually settle in Hood River, Oregon, and the complications brought on by a domineering paternal grandmother and a paternal grandfather who was a chronic gambler. Her own story is one of poverty made worse by an older sister who has a daughter about the same age as Diana that the entire family seems to favor. Subsequent chapters focus on her various siblings and school friends whose lives inevitably end up being shaped in unexpected ways by the war years and incarceration. She finds a kindred spirit as a teenager in a young pastor named William Hohri, who is the first Nisei she meets who talks openly about camp. The narrative ends in the early 1960s with the death of her grandfather. A postscript summarizes the experiences of Japanese Canadians during World War II, reflecting the author's residence there.

A resident of British Columbia, Cole published the book in Canada through Diaspora Press. The book includes small photographs of Cole and family members mentioned in the text.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

Might also like The Little Exile by Jeanette S. Arakawa; Looking After Minidoka: An American Memoir by Neil Nakadate; The Floating World by Cynthia Kadohata

For More Information

official website:

Ibuki, Norm Masaji. Discover Nikkei, July 7, 2016.