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    "url_title": "Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (book)",
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    "modified": "2024-01-05T02:14:17",
    "title": "Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (book)",
    "body": "<div class=\"mw-parser-output\">\n <div class=\"rgonly\">\n  <!--\"rgdatabox-CoreDisplay\" removed-->\n  <div id=\"rgdatabox-Core\" style=\"display:none;\">\n   <p>\n    RGMediaType:books;\nTitle:Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire;\nCreators:David Mura;\nInterestLevel:Adult;\nReadingLevel:;\nGuidedReadingLevel:;\nLexile:;\nTheme:Coming of age; Dangers of ignorance; Power of silence; Power of the past;\nGenre:Fiction;\nPoV:Protagonist is a Sansei in his 40s who looks back at his childhood;\nRelatedEvents:;\nAvailability:Widely available;\nFreeWebVersion:Yes;\nPrimarySecondary:;\nHasTeachingAids:No;\nWarnings:Drug use; Some strong language; Some violence;\nDenshoTopic:;\nGeography:Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; Berkeley, California;\nChronology:1950s to 1990s;\nFacility:;\n   </p>\n  </div>\n </div>\n <div id=\"databox-BooksDisplay\">\n  <table class=\"infobox\" width=\"200px;\">\n   <tbody>\n    <tr>\n     <th scope=\"row\" style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Title\n     </th>\n     <td style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire\n     </td>\n    </tr>\n    <tr>\n     <th scope=\"row\" style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Author\n     </th>\n     <td style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      David Mura\n     </td>\n    </tr>\n    <tr>\n     <th scope=\"row\" style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Original Publisher\n     </th>\n     <td style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Coffee House Press\n     </td>\n    </tr>\n    <tr>\n     <th scope=\"row\" style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Original Publication Date\n     </th>\n     <td style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      2008\n     </td>\n    </tr>\n    <tr>\n     <th scope=\"row\" style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      Pages\n     </th>\n     <td style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      269\n     </td>\n    </tr>\n    <tr>\n     <th scope=\"row\" style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      WorldCat Link\n     </th>\n     <td style=\"text-align:left;\">\n      <a class=\"external free offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n\n      </a>\n     </td>\n    </tr>\n   </tbody>\n  </table>\n </div>\n <div id=\"databox-Books\" style=\"display:none;\">\n  <p>\n   Title:Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire;\nAuthor:David Mura;\nIllustrator:;\nOrigTitle:;\nCountry:;\nLanguage:;\nSeries:;\nGenre:;\nPublisher:Coffee House Press;\nPubDate:2008;\nCurrentPublisher:;\nCurrentPubDate:;\nMediaType:;\nPages:269;\nAwards:;\nISBN:;\nWorldCatLink:\n   <a class=\"external free offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n\n   </a>\n   ;\n  </p>\n </div>\n <p>\n  First novel by acclaimed poet and memoirist David Mura that explores the impact of wartime incarceration—and the silences about it—on a Japanese American family in Chicago after World War II.\n </p>\n <div aria-labelledby=\"mw-toc-heading\" class=\"toc\" id=\"toc\" role=\"navigation\">\n  <input class=\"toctogglecheckbox\" id=\"toctogglecheckbox\" role=\"button\" style=\"display:none\" type=\"checkbox\"/>\n  <div class=\"toctitle\" dir=\"ltr\" lang=\"en\">\n   <h2 id=\"mw-toc-heading\">\n    Contents\n   </h2>\n   <span class=\"toctogglespan\">\n    <label class=\"toctogglelabel\" for=\"toctogglecheckbox\">\n    </label>\n   </span>\n  </div>\n  <ul>\n   <li class=\"toclevel-1 tocsection-1\">\n    <a class=\"\" href=\"#Synopsis\">\n     <span class=\"tocnumber\">\n      1\n     </span>\n     <span class=\"toctext\">\n      Synopsis\n     </span>\n    </a>\n   </li>\n   <li class=\"toclevel-1 tocsection-2\">\n    <a class=\"\" href=\"#Background\">\n     <span class=\"tocnumber\">\n      2\n     </span>\n     <span class=\"toctext\">\n      Background\n     </span>\n    </a>\n   </li>\n   <li class=\"toclevel-1\">\n    <a class=\"\" href=\"#Find_in_the_Digital_Library_of_Japanese_American_Incarceration\">\n     <span class=\"tocnumber\">\n      3\n     </span>\n     <span class=\"toctext\">\n      Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration\n     </span>\n    </a>\n   </li>\n   <li class=\"toclevel-1 tocsection-3\">\n    <a class=\"\" href=\"#For_More_Information\">\n     <span class=\"tocnumber\">\n      4\n     </span>\n     <span class=\"toctext\">\n      For More Information\n     </span>\n    </a>\n   </li>\n   <li class=\"toclevel-1 tocsection-4\">\n    <a class=\"\" href=\"#Reviews\">\n     <span class=\"tocnumber\">\n      5\n     </span>\n     <span class=\"toctext\">\n      Reviews\n     </span>\n    </a>\n   </li>\n  </ul>\n </div>\n <div class=\"section\" id=\"Synopsis\">\n  <h2>\n   <span class=\"mw-headline\" id=\"Synopsis\">\n    Synopsis\n   </span>\n  </h2>\n  <div class=\"section_content\">\n   <p>\n    Protagonist Ben Ohara is a\n    <a class=\"encyc notrg\" href=\"/Sansei/\" title=\"Sansei\">\n     Sansei\n    </a>\n    forty-something community college history professor in Chicago in the novel's 1999 present. He is vaguely unsatisfied with his professional life, having never finished his Ph.D and struggles to finish a book he's been working on for years titled\n    <i>\n     Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire\n    </i>\n    . Though happily married with two young sons, he also struggles with the legacy of his difficult childhood, his parents (both now deceased) and their secrets, and especially survivor's guilt over his brilliant but troubled younger brother Tommy, who had disappeared into the Nevada desert ten years before never to be seen again. When a postcard from Tommy suddenly appears—sent from Japan in 1989, it had apparently been lost in the mail—Ben is moved to go to Los Angeles, ostensibly to do research on his book, but also to further investigate Tommy's disappearance and his own family's history.\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    The narrative subsequently moves back and forth between past and present, recounting his travels and pithy summaries of his research on suicide along with Ben and Tommy's Chicago childhood: an often absent father and a determined mother who often quarrel, growing up in a bad part of town, being bullied by the only other Sansei kid around, interactions with more affluent relatives, and a descent into petty crime that ends up sending Ben into a juvenile facility and reform school. After his father's suicide, his mother remarries a bland white former veteran who served in Japan; while Ben straightens out and becomes a good student, Tommy becomes an astrophysicist, but also a drug addict, gambler, and womanizer and relations between the two as young adults become strained.\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Behind much of the family drama is his father's status as a \"\n    <a class=\"encyc notrg\" href=\"/No-no_boys/\" title=\"No-no boys\">\n     no-no boy\n    </a>\n    ,\" the implied reason for his instability and difficulty in holding down a job and of conflicts with other Japanese Americans. As a child, Ben is fascinated by stories his uncle tells him about serving in the\n    <a class=\"encyc notrg\" href=\"/442nd_Regimental_Combat_Team/\" title=\"442nd Regimental Combat Team\">\n     442nd Regimental Combat Team\n    </a>\n    and lies to friends that his father had been a war hero. As the story goes on, Ben becomes more interested in Japanese American history and learns about various aspects of his family history that his parents never told him. As is the case with many works—as well as in the community in general—\"no-no boys\" and\n    <a class=\"encyc notrg\" href=\"/Draft_resistance/\" title=\"Draft resistance\">\n     draft resisters\n    </a>\n    are conflated, though here Mura does this intentionally, making the point that Ben never does figure out which category his father fell into.\n   </p>\n  </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"section\" id=\"Background\">\n  <h2>\n   <span class=\"mw-headline\" id=\"Background\">\n    Background\n   </span>\n  </h2>\n  <div class=\"section_content\">\n   <p>\n    Though Mura is about the same age as Ben and both grew up in Chicago, other elements of the story are not overly autobiographical, as Mura's father was too young during the war to have faced the dilemma of military service while being in a concentration camp. But he told interviewer Alexs Pate, that \"[w]hat I suppose I do share with Ben is a sense that there was a vast silence in my childhood surrounding the past of my Nisei parents and the legacy of the internment camps.\"\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Acclaimed as a poet and memoirist, Mura has published four books of poetry and two memoirs. He is also a playwright, critic, and performance artist.\n   </p>\n   <div id=\"authorByline\">\n    <b>\n     Authored by\n     <a class=\"encyc notrg\" href=\"/Brian_Niiya/\" title=\"Brian Niiya\">\n      Brian Niiya\n     </a>\n     , Densho\n    </b>\n   </div>\n   <div id=\"citationAuthor\" style=\"display:none;\">\n    Niiya, Brian\n   </div>\n  </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"section\" id=\"Find_in_the_Digital_Library_of_Japanese_American_Incarceration\">\n  <h2>\n   <span class=\"mw-headline\" id=\"Find_in_the_Digital_Library_of_Japanese_American_Incarceration\">\n    Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration\n   </span>\n  </h2>\n  <div class=\"section_content\">\n   <p>\n    <b>\n     <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n      Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire\n     </a>\n    </b>\n   </p>\n   <p style=\"font-size:8pt;line-height:1.5;color: #aaa;\">\n    This item has been made freely available in the\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration\n    </a>\n    , a collaborative project with\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     Internet Archive\n    </a>\n    .\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    <br/>\n    Might also like:\n    <i>\n     <a class=\"encyc rg\" href=\"/Fox_Drum_Bebop_(book)/\" title=\"Fox Drum Bebop (book)\">\n      Fox Drum Bebop\n     </a>\n    </i>\n    by Gene Oishi;\n    <i>\n     <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n      Letters to Memory\n     </a>\n    </i>\n    by Karen Tei Yamashita;\n    <i>\n     <a class=\"encyc rg\" href=\"/Beacon_Hill_Boys_(book)/\" title=\"Beacon Hill Boys (book)\">\n      Beacon Hill Boys\n     </a>\n    </i>\n    by Ken Mochizuki\n   </p>\n  </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"section\" id=\"For_More_Information\">\n  <h2>\n   <span class=\"mw-headline\" id=\"For_More_Information\">\n    For More Information\n   </span>\n  </h2>\n  <div class=\"section_content\">\n   <p>\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     David Mura website.\n    </a>\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     Publishers website.\n    </a>\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Pate, Alexs. \"\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     Q&amp;A: David Mura on Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire\n    </a>\n    .\" IMDiversity, Oct. 20, 2012.\n   </p>\n  </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"section\" id=\"Reviews\">\n  <h2>\n   <span class=\"mw-headline\" id=\"Reviews\">\n    Reviews\n   </span>\n  </h2>\n  <div class=\"section_content\">\n   <p>\n    Beronā, David.\n    <i>\n     Library Journal\n    </i>\n    , July 2008, 65. [\"Despite the distinct stories about suicides and the Japanese internment camps, the novel is more like a patchwork of fiction and historical facts that does not hold together well.\"]\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Cheuse, Alan.\n    <i>\n     Chicago Tribune\n    </i>\n    , Nov. 22, 2008. [\"… sections of it were absolutely delightful, though others meandered much too much.\"]\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Crystal, Viviane.\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     Historical Novel Society\n    </a>\n    , Feb. 2009.\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Kellogg, Susan.\n    <i>\n     <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n      Discover Nikkei\n     </a>\n    </i>\n    , Nov. 27 2008. [\"It is refreshing to have a story trace the direct psychological effect of incarceration in the camps during WWII, but from a different perspective than what is normally heard.\"]\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Korfhage, Matthew.\n    <i>\n     <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n      Willamette Week\n     </a>\n    </i>\n    , Oct. 14, 2008. [\"… his book contains a few too many nods to the readers, a few too many self-consciously helpful sidebars about our country's shameful treatment of Japanese immigrants in the past century.\"]\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    <i>\n     <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n      Publishers Weekly\n     </a>\n    </i>\n    , June 23, 2008, 35. [\"... while the novel's first half vividly recounts Ben's childhood in Chicago's rough Uptown neighborhood, the second half sees the narrative losing energy as it becomes more contemplative and big family secrets are blandly revealed. Mura writes beautiful sentences, but the story becomes more slack just as it should be intensifying.\"]\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Seaman, Donna.\n    <i>\n     Booklist\n    </i>\n    , Sept. 15, 2008, 25. [\"Memoirist... and poet Mura manages rather spectacularly to bring a light touch to his intense first novel....\"]\n   </p>\n   <p>\n    Upchurch, Michael. \"\n    <a class=\"external text offsite\" href=\"\" rel=\"nofollow\">\n     Up Against an Unfathomable Family History\n    </a>\n    .\"\n    <i>\n     Seattle Times\n    </i>\n    , Oct. 9, 2008. [\"The book is multileveled, multifaceted and filled with period detail that will strike a chord with anyone of Mura's generation (he was born in 1952).]\n   </p>\n   <!-- \nNewPP limit report\nCached time: 20240418160700\nCache expiry: 86400\nDynamic content: false\nComplications: []\nCPU time usage: 0.017 seconds\nReal time usage: 0.022 seconds\nPreprocessor visited node count: 325/1000000\nPost‐expand include size: 6693/2097152 bytes\nTemplate argument size: 1595/2097152 bytes\nHighest expansion depth: 4/40\nExpensive parser function count: 0/100\nUnstrip recursion depth: 0/20\nUnstrip post‐expand size: 0/5000000 bytes\nExtLoops count: 0\n-->\n   <!--\nTransclusion expansion time report (%,ms,calls,template)\n100.00%    8.783      1 -total\n 27.25%    2.393      1 Template:RGDatabox-Core\n 24.08%    2.115      1 Template:Databox-Books\n 16.00%    1.405      1 Template:Published\n 15.50%    1.361      1 Template:AuthorByline\n 15.10%    1.326      1 Template:FindAtIA\n-->\n   <!-- Saved in parser cache with key encycmw:pcache:idhash:1703-0!canonical and timestamp 20240418160700 and revision id 35863\n -->\n  </div>\n </div>\n</div>\n<div class=\"toplink\">\n <a href=\"#top\">\n  <i class=\"icon-chevron-up\">\n  </i>\n  Top\n </a>\n</div>",
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