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Middle Son by Deborah Iida

Middle Son

by Deborah Iida

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425174433, Paperback)

This restrained, elegiac first novel is at once a feat of imagination--a man's childhood recalled, written by a female novelist--and a fictionalized history of the Japanese-American community in Hawaii. The narrator, Spencer Fujii, grew up among the sugar cane cutters of Hawaii and lost his brother when the latter drowned at age 12. That tragedy forms the core for Spencer's reminiscences and his coming to terms with inevitable loss and sorrow--for his aged mother is dying as well. The dialogue is written in finely tuned patois and the novel explores the customs and personalities of a world that most of us will never experience directly.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:14 -0400)

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When Spencer Fujii's grandparents arrived in Hawaii at the turn of the century, they brought Japanese customs with them. Five decades later, those traditional expectations still shape the lives of the Fujii family. Spencer, the child of first generation Japanese-American (Nisei) sugarcane plantation workers, is the middle son of this exquisite first novel. He is haunted by the sacrifice of Taizo, not only Spencer's big brother but his hero, who kept the tradition all too faithfully. While the Japanese traditions of responsibility, acceptance, and sacrifice form the structural backbone of this remarkable novel, it is the delicate evocation of Spencer's family life, his childhood days with the much-loved Taizo, and the beauty of his final communion with his mother that displays Deborah Iida's enormous talent. "Deborah Iida's fine writing and her wonderful ear opened the window on the world of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, a world that captured this reader."--Abraham Verghese, author of MY OWN COUNTRTY; "A small gem."--Kirkus Reveiws; "Resonant. A tender tale of secrecy and obligation, introducing us to a Hawaii the tourists never see."--Glamour.… (more)

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