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Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel by David…
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Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel (original 1994; edition 1995)

by David Guterson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,461131307 (3.76)289
Member:supranee
Title:Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel
Authors:David Guterson
Info:Vintage (1995), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 460 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:japan, united states, historical fiction

Work details

Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel by David Guterson (1994)

  1. 161
    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
    Sole Survivor by Derek Hansen (KimarieBee)
    KimarieBee: Internment, but in different circumstances
  5. 10
    The Sky Fisherman: A Novel by Craig Lesley (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books show a love for the Pacific Northwest in their setting.
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» See also 289 mentions

English (123)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (131)
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
Read in the mid- to late-'90s and don't remember much at all; re-reading for book club, May 2015.

Snow Falling on Cedars centers around a murder trial on a Pacific northwest island in the 1950s: Kabuo Miyamoto is accused of first-degree murder of Carl Heine. The two men have a complicated history: Kabuo's family had been one payment away from purchasing seven acres of Carl's family's land before all the Japanese residents of the island were shipped off to the internment camp of Manzanar. While Kabuo's family was there and while Carl was at war, Carl's mother sold the land; it has been Kabuo's mission to get it back.

The island's newspaperman and sole reporter, Ishmael Chambers, is involved emotionally as well as professionally: he grew up with Kabuo's wife, Hatsue, and they were childhood sweethearts. He has never gotten over her, which complicates his view of the trial, especially when he discovers new evidence. Only in the last pages are the twin questions resolved: Will Ishmael come forward with evidence that could clear Kabuo? And will the jury declare Kabuo innocent or guilty?

A historical mystery with long passages of description, it felt a little slow to me, but is undoubtedly a good story - one that highlights the unfairness of the wartime internment camps and their long ramifications.

Quotes

There was a place in him she could not reach where he made his choices in solitude, and this made her not only uneasy about him but afraid for their future, too. Her life was joined to his now, and it seemed to her that every corner of his soul should be opened to hers because of this. (92)

[The eyes of soldiers] did not so much seem to stare right through things as to stare past the present state of the world into a world that was permanently in the distance for them and at the same time more immediate than the present....Under the surface of his daily life was a life he lived as if underwater. (153)

It had seemed to Kabuo that...the judge, the jurors, the people in the gallery would recognize the face of a war veteran who had forever sacrificed his tranquility in order that they might have theirs. (155)

...she had learned...that character was always destiny. (164)

Let us live in this trying time that when it is all over we islanders can look one another in the eye with the knowledge that we have behaved honorably and fairly. (Arthur Chambers' editorial, 184-185)

"Journalism is just the facts."
"But which facts? Which facts do we print, Ishmael?" (Ishmael and Arthur, 188)

The trick was to live here without hating yourself because all around you was hatred. (Fujiko to Hatsue, 200)

"These are difficult times. Nobody knows who they are now. Everything is cloudy and unclear. Still, you should learn to say nothing that will cause you regret. You should not say what is not in your heart - or what is only in your heart for a moment." (Fujiko to Hatsue, 201)

...though it occurred to her now that she might never know herself, that perhaps no one ever does, that such a thing might not be possible. (Hatsue, 205)

...[Kabuo] cursed the injustice of the world. "They stole from us," he said angrily, "and they got away with it." (360)

"There are the things that happened...and the things that did not happen. That's all we're talking about." (Nels to Kabuo, 392)

"There are the things in this universe that we cannot control, and then there are the things we can." (Nels to jury, 418)

Does a man ever believe in his own imminent death or in the possibility of accident? (458) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 27, 2015 |
A slow, atmospheric book, set on San Piedro Island, in the Pacific Northwest. The island is home to many generations of families, seeming to be of mostly German descent. There is a fairly large community of Japanese immigrants, mainly first and second generation. Families make their living primarily by fishing and strawberry farming.
When fisherman Carl Heine is pulled out of his fishing net, murder is suspected. Another fisherman, Kabu Miyamoto is arrested for the crime. The book gives us the story of the trial, as seen by Ishmael Chambers, owner of the Island newspaper. Ishmaels' childhood friend and first love, Hatsue, is married to Kabu Miyamoto. Through flashbacks we are shown life on the island, the friendship and romance of Ishmael and Hatsue, the arrest and internment of the Japanese residents of the Island during WW II, Ishmael's time in the Navy and the loss of one of his arms, the Miyamoto's deal with the Heine family to buy 7 acres of land for farming and the subsequent loss of that land while in internment and the continued prejudices of the island residents.
The prose is lovely and descriptive. You can practically smell the walls of cedar trees, taste and smell the strawberries, and feel the mist and fog on your face. A slow read that gets slower in the middle of the book, but so worth the time spent reading. Recommended. ( )
1 vote VioletBramble | Mar 11, 2015 |
Very good!

Interesting characters and a plot that kept me guessing.

( )
  Scarchin | Feb 26, 2015 |
One of my top 5 favourite books. Beautifully written, and a fantastic story. ( )
  ghostdog801 | Feb 7, 2015 |
A gripping story ( )
  anitatally | Feb 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Gutersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067976402X, Paperback)

This is the kind of book where you can smell and hear and see the fictional world the writer has created, so palpably does the atmosphere come through. Set on an island in the straits north of Puget Sound, in Washington, where everyone is either a fisherman or a berry farmer, the story is nominally about a murder trial. But since it's set in the 1950s, lingering memories of World War II, internment camps and racism helps fuel suspicion of a Japanese-American fisherman, a lifelong resident of the islands. It's a great story, but the primary pleasure of the book is Guterson's renderings of the people and the place.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:27 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

When a newspaper journalist covers the trial of a Japanese American accused of murder, he must come to terms with his own past.

(summary from another edition)

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