Fri. Dec 8th, 2023


Hisaye Yamamoto was an important Japanese American author and journalist who wrote about the experiences of Japanese Americans during and after World War II. She was born in 1921 in Los Angeles, California, to a Japanese American family. After relocating to Japan as a child, Yamamoto returned to the United States in 1941 and became a journalist. Yamamoto’s Writing often explores the intersecting experiences of East and West, culture and race. She died in 20011 at the age of 89.

Hisaye Yamamoto biography

Hisaye Yamamoto was born in 1921 in California. After graduating high school in 1959, she emigrated to the United States with her family. She attended college at the University of California, Berkeley, and then worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. In 1981, she published her first book, co-authored with her husband, Lawrence Yamamoto. Since then, she has written several books on Japanese American history and culture. Yamamoto is also an author and news commentator on Asian American issues.
In 2001, Yamamoto received the prestigious A Century of Progress Award from the Japanese American Citizens League. In 2004, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brown University. She currently resides in Berkeley, California.

Hisaye Yamamoto short stories

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Hisaye Yamamoto was a Japanese-American author and journalist. She has written several short stories, many of which have been published in anthologies and magazines. Her Writing often explores the intersections of race, ethnicity, and identity. Yamamoto was born to a Japanese American father and a white-American mother. She grew up speaking both Japanese and English at home. Yamamoto has said that her experiences as an outsider have shaped her writing approach. After graduating from college, she worked as a reporter for various newspapers in Washington state. In 2007, she moved to New York City to become a literary agent. Since then, she has written books: The End of Days (2011), about love and loss during the HIV pandemic, and Empire of Sugar (2015), about the history of sugar in America.

Her short stories

“Seventeen Syllables
“Bamboo Heart”
“Good Fortune at Home”
“The Chrysanthemums”
“The egg carton lady”
“The House on the Hill”
“The Ladies’ Room doorbell rings: Again.”
“Mama Matsuko’s Dolls”
“The Vegetable Gardener”
“The Bees in My Bonnet”


The experiences of Japanese Americans during and after World War II

The evacuation of Japanese Americans during World War II was one of the most traumatic experiences in their history. Hisaye Yamamoto, author and journalist, describe her family’s war experience in her book The Unspoken Word: A Memoir of Family Secrets and Survival.

Not long after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans began to view all Japanese with suspicion. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on Prior Notification on February 19, 1942, authorizing military officials to “seize” Japanese Americans living on U.S. soil and “exclude them from the community.” Over 120,000 people – nearly half of the Japanese American community – were affected by this order.

Many parents had to leave their children behind while they went to camps or were moved far away; others could never contact their families again. For many young children, it was the first time they had been separated from their parents, and it was very hard to cope with this new situation.

Many Japanese-Americans experienced racism and anti-Japanese sentiment while they were in camps or after they were evacuated. They were humiliated when they had to line up for hours at military stations and called derogatory names. They were often subjected to violence and abuse. Families who remained connected throughout the war faced many challenges afterward – many members lost jobs or homes because of what happened during the war years. Some struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Lessons learned from her short stories

Hisaye Yamamoto is an award-winning author, journalist, and educator whose work centers on the intersections of race, identity, and experience. Yamamoto’s short stories explore the personal cost of war and displacement and the ways that nostalgia can mask trauma.

Born in 1944 to a Japanese father and a white American mother in Seattle, Washington, Yamamoto experienced first-hand the inequalities faced by people of color in America. She attended all-white schools as a child, watched her parents struggle to gain acceptance in a society that prized Whiteness, and later studied at Columbia University as an immigrant. After graduating from college in 1971, Yamamoto worked as a reporter for The New York Times before moving to Japan to teach English.

In 1980, Yamamoto returned to the United States to write her first novel. She has since written three additional novels and two memoirs about her experiences as an immigrant and an artist. Her work has been honored with several awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (for Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do), a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist (for A Thousand Defenses), and a Laurence Sterne Literary Prize Nomination (The Days they Brought Me Down).

In addition to writing fiction and journalism, Yamamoto teaches creative WritingWriting at Florida International University, where she is Vice President for Creative WritingWriting programs serving students across the United States. Her upcoming book, Searching for Sugar Man: A Life and Times in the Pursuit of a Forgotten Artist, is a biography of Brian Jones.


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