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Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
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Snow Falling on Cedars (1994)

by David Guterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,252166399 (3.75)343
In Washington State, the trial of Kabuo Miyomoto, a Japanese-American fisherman accused of murdering another fisherman, Carl Heine. The prosecution charges the murder was committed as revenge for the Heine family taking Miyomoto's land at the outbreak of World War II and the novel traces the different reaction of the white and yellow communities. By the author of The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind.… (more)
  1. 170
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (EerierIdyllMeme)
    EerierIdyllMeme: Very different novels exploring similar themes
  2. 100
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (pdebolt)
    pdebolt: This novel also deals with the internment of Japanese Americans and the heartache endured.
  3. 31
    Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (browner56)
    browner56: The Pacific Northwest sets the stage for these engrossing and highly atmospheric novels
  4. 10
    Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg (Friederike.Geissler)
  5. 10
    The Sky Fisherman: A Novel by Craig Lesley (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books show a love for the Pacific Northwest in their setting.
  6. 10
    Sole Survivor by Derek Hansen (KimarieBee)
    KimarieBee: Internment, but in different circumstances
  7. 01
    The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (sturlington)
    sturlington: Small-town island settings.
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» See also 343 mentions

English (155)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
gift from Mom
  Overgaard | Apr 20, 2020 |
The story was told well, albeit a predictable plot line (anti-Japanese racism in the Western US in the 1950s). I enjoyed how the geography of the island and island life itself were vital characters in the story. Worth a read, but not a 'top of the pile' book IMO ( )
  jdoshna | Mar 29, 2020 |
This was so close to being an incredible, essential book, but some fatal flaws halfway ruined it for me.

First the good: it's a powerful story, primarily about the atrocity that was the US's WW2 internment of Japanese-Americans, and with some important secondary themes like how the war itself damaged people and how men can hurt ourselves by internalising all our problems. Guterson's also a very talented writer, switching easily between a precise clinical style that fits the courtroom elements of the story, and a lyrical style that captures the feel of Puget Sound in winter beautifully.

But there were three flaws that by the end of the book really took a lot away in my eyes:

1. The two Japanese families who have major parts in the story feel like instances of a culture, not sets of living breathing characters. Even the two individuals from those families who are at the centre of the story felt more like roles than people. By halfway through I found myself really wanting to read a Nisei author's telling of the same story. And it's odd because this isn't about trading in nasty stereotypes--the author is clearly very much on their side, but still can't quite get past essentialising their culture.

2. Guterson has a strange obsession with penises, the size thereof, and writing very mechanical sex scenes in which the insertion of peg A into slot B is jarringly unsexy but kicks off massive emotional repercussions. Those scenes felt like they were written by a teenage boy feeling pressure to lose his virginity, and it's all the stranger because he's so good at writing other types of scene.

3. I'm going to hide this one. It's not exactly a suspense spoiler, but I don't want my impression of it to colour other peoples' reactions if you're reading this book with fresh eyes. I hated how at the end the book suddenly becomes Ishmael's redemption story. That character was interesting--I liked him a lot at the start of the book and progressively less as the story unfolded--but ultimately worthwhile for how disturbingly relatable his faults were. But suddenly at the end Guterson made the story not about Kabuo, Hisao or Carl at all, and all about the emotionally-still-a-teenager white boy saving the day by getting over his baggage. I wish I could rewrite it to either not require him to be the one who announces the new evidence, or having his mum coerce or shame him into revealing it. ( )
1 vote eldang | Sep 18, 2019 |
This was so close to being an incredible, essential book, but some fatal flaws halfway ruined it for me.

First the good: it's a powerful story, primarily about the atrocity that was the US's WW2 internment of Japanese-Americans, and with some important secondary themes like how the war itself damaged people and how men can hurt ourselves by internalising all our problems. Guterson's also a very talented writer, switching easily between a precise clinical style that fits the courtroom elements of the story, and a lyrical style that captures the feel of Puget Sound in winter beautifully.

But there were three flaws that by the end of the book really took a lot away in my eyes:

1. The two Japanese families who have major parts in the story feel like instances of a culture, not sets of living breathing characters. Even the two individuals from those families who are at the centre of the story felt more like roles than people. By halfway through I found myself really wanting to read a Nisei author's telling of the same story. And it's odd because this isn't about trading in nasty stereotypes--the author is clearly very much on their side, but still can't quite get past essentialising their culture.

2. Guterson has a strange obsession with penises, the size thereof, and writing very mechanical sex scenes in which the insertion of peg A into slot B is jarringly unsexy but kicks off massive emotional repercussions. Those scenes felt like they were written by a teenage boy feeling pressure to lose his virginity, and it's all the stranger because he's so good at writing other types of scene.

3. I'm going to hide this one. It's not exactly a suspense spoiler, but I don't want my impression of it to colour other peoples' reactions if you're reading this book with fresh eyes. I hated how at the end the book suddenly becomes Ishmael's redemption story. That character was interesting--I liked him a lot at the start of the book and progressively less as the story unfolded--but ultimately worthwhile for how disturbingly relatable his faults were. But suddenly at the end Guterson made the story not about Kabuo, Hisao or Carl at all, and all about the emotionally-still-a-teenager white boy saving the day by getting over his baggage. I wish I could rewrite it to either not require him to be the one who announces the new evidence, or having his mum coerce or shame him into revealing it. ( )
  eldang | Aug 11, 2019 |
Prose is beautiful, but pace is painfully slow. Enjoyed the novel, however, down to the end. Glad I read it, and think it's a worthy piece of literature. ( )
  LiterarySparks | May 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Gutersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To my mother and father,
with gratitude.
First words
The accused man, Kabuo Miyamoto, sat proudly upright with a rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant's table - the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as this is possible at his own trial.
Quotations
In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself
within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.
Ah, how hard a thing it is to tell what a wild,
and rough, and stubborn wood this was,
which in my thought renews the fear!
- Dante, The Divine Comedy
Harmony, like a following breeze
at sea, is the exception.
Harvey Oxenhorn, Tuning the Rig
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
San Piedro island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese-American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries-memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of a land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Peidro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during WWII, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. (0-679-76402-X)
Haiku summary
I've not read the booknamed Snow Falling on CedarsDoubt I ever will
SomeGuyinVirginia

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