Shannon on Giraffe Days is doing something really interesting called Around the World in 12 Books challenge.  You can read more about it on her blog but the book that was reviewed for Canada really caught my eye.  She wasn’t the reviewer, it was someone named aloi @ Guiltless Reading (and you can check out her full review) but the subject matter is almost taboo even 67 years after the end of WWII.  The book, entitled Obasan, is written by Joy Kagawa based on her own childhood recollections (and letters and documents of the time) of the way Canada, paranoia, moved and detained Japanese-Canadians and confiscated their homes and belongings.  This is not a new book (1981), or story for that matter, but it is told through the eyes of a child, Naomi, who is cushioned from much of what was happening by a protective aunt, Obasan.  It is told as observation and without condemnation.  There are many rave reviews to be found around the Internet for this forthright telling of such an unfortunate chapter in our Canadian history.  Many of these reviews quote the introduction.  You will see immediately the drama of the story and the magnetism of the telling of it.


There is a silence that cannot speak.
There is a silence that will not speak.
Beneath the grass the speaking dreams and beneath the dreams is a sensate sea. The speech that frees comes forth from that amniotic deep. To attend its voice, I can hear it say, is to embrace its absence. But I fail the task. The word is stone.
I admit it.
I hate the stillness. I hate the stone. I hate the sealed vault with its cold icon. I hate the staring into the night. The questions thinning into space. The sky swallowing the echoes.
Unless the stone bursts with telling, unless the seed flowers with speech, there is in my life no living word. The sound I hear is only sound. White sound. Words, when they fall are pock marks on the earth. They are hailstones seeking an underground stream.
If I could follow the stream down and down to the hidden voice, would I come at last to the freeing word? I ask the night sky but the silence is steadfast. There is no reply.

It is almost poetry.  Very powerful poetry.  This book won two awards:  the 1981 Books in Canada First Novel Award and the 1982 CAA Book of the Year Award; the author, the Order of Canada.  The Washington Post said:  This quiet novel burns in your hand.  This book has moved to the top of my “to be read” list!  Can’t wait!!


About mysm2000

Having taught elementary school for more than 25 years and been involved in many amazing technology and curriculum projects, I find I've developed a myriad of interests based on literature I've read and music I've heard. I've followed The Wright Three to Chicago, Ansel Adams to Colorado, The Kon Tiki Expedition to Easter Island, Simon & Garfunkel lyrics to New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright to Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, and have only just begun.
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One Response to Obasan

  1. Pingback: Potpourri 28 | Ms M's Bookshelf

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