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Snow Falling on Cedars (1994)

by David Guterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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12,061177435 (3.76)367
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award 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 a man's guilt. For on San Pedro, 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 land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense-- one that leaves us shaken and changed. Haunting. A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, Rendee94, JoeB1934, Ponyomal, Nadine79, ChersBooks, esidoti, Camp_Le_Breton, lcl999
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» See also 367 mentions

English (166)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (177)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
Beautiful book. I loved the imagery in it. The plot is a bit thin, but the plot is sort of beside the point. The characters and the setting were perfect. A few of the minor characters were a bit two dimensional, but that couldn't be helped. There's a huge cast of characters.

No one has an easy time of things. The characters grow up in financial devastation and as adults witness the horrors of World War.

Women are trapped in various situations because of tradition and their limited rights. Their fears during wartime leads them to make decisions that might not be in their own best interest.

Some of them are stripped of rights because of the way they look and speak. But, mostly because of the way that they look.

Prejudice is usually generational. People my age wince when we hear the term "Jap". Our parents used the term derogatorily and excused themselves with "Pearl Harbor". We were at war with Japan. There was a great deal of propaganda.

German-American citizens and immigrants were rounded up and put in camps during WWI, and a large number of German-Americans and recent German immigrants were put in camps during WWII. People who had recently immigrated from Italy were limited in where they could live and where they could go during WWII. None of this is a secret. There was prejudice. We were at war. The book doesn't mention any of this and it easily could have. It isn't generally taught in schools. Propaganda continues in a different form.

In any case, there are very few people left who were adult decision makers of that day.

I think the book does an excellent job of showing the double standard and the hypocrisy. It also shows characters shedding those same bitter prejudices and becoming better people. That's the best we can hope for. ( )
  rabbit-stew | Jun 26, 2022 |
I read this due to "The Final Case" which I enjoyed. This is equally as good. Set after WWII in an island of northwest US, the islanders are mostly fishermen including a number of Japanese families who had been interred during WWII. Now they are back hoping to restore their lives.

Carl Heine was fisherman whose father had been a successful strawberry farmer. The Miyamototo family had purchased seven acres from the father, but were unable to make the last payment due to the internment. After the father's death, the mother refused to let the Miyamoto family have the rest of the lad since the last payment was made. Kabuo and Carl had been friends as children but the friendship has strained after the war although both served in the US services. Kabuo approaches Carl about buying the seven acres, but no immediate decision is made.

Then on an extremely foggy night, Carl is found dead in his fishing boat and Kabuo is then charged with first degree murder. The trial provides the backbone of the book.

A local journalist, Ishamel Chambers and Kabuo's wife had been seemingly deeply in love although such a relationship was not acceptable on the island. When Ishamel goes off the the war, the girl writes to end their relationship. Ishamel loses an arm in the war, returns home, and has never married.

The story is readable and hard to put down. I enjoy the writing, the characterization, and the beautiful description of setting. I will definitely read more by this author. ( )
  maryreinert | May 1, 2022 |
I really enjoyed this book . it was a little slow getting started but I couldn't wait to see what happened once I got into it. It is the story of love and prejudice. it is the story of being true to yourself and forgiveness. It is the story of fairness and bitterness.Memories and lies. All taking place during a murder trial taking place in 1954. ( )
  KyleneJones | Apr 25, 2022 |
This is a well-written novel. The author knows a lot of details about a variety of topics. He wrote about life on an island close to the Seattle coastline, life as a fisherman netting for salmon, life as a strawberry sharecropper, life as a WWII soldier, life as a first or second generation Japanese immigrant in the early 20th century, life as a coroner, life as a journalist for a small local paper......He provided intricate details in all of them. It sounded like he really knew what he was talking about, not just setting up the mood of a scene. I was particularly impressed with his knowledge of Japanese culture.

The plot is bleak. White people on the island discriminated against Japanese Americans living on the island before, during and after WWII. The Japanese Americans were sent into concentration camp by the government after Pearl Harbor. The discrimination persisted 10 years after the war, leading to the unjust suspicion and trial of a Japanese man for murdering his white childhood friend. About two-thirds of the book is pretty depressing to read. The two chapters that featured the childhood friend's mother were absolutely infuriating. That character was so awful I even tried to google her name to see if other readers also complain about her. :P And the main character, a white man who was the ex-boyfriend of a Japanese woman, behaved so poorly at a certain point of the book that I want to bang him on the head with a pan. But the story ended on a hopeful note, so I still feel reasonably good after finishing the book. It really was a very well-written and well-researched book. The PEN/Faulkner award is well-deserved. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
Она прекрасная.

Начну, однако, издалека. Я прекрасно понимаю, почему несколько лет назад я бросила ее через несколько страниц. Через начало я даже на русском еле продралась, что уж говорить о попытке читать оригинал.
Подобных мест - через которые нужно буквально "продираться" - в книге несколько. Целые страницы каких-то чрезмерных, ненужных деталей и мелких неважных подробностей: то про войну, то про вскрытие, то про какие-то корабельные штуки, где все написано терминологией и я реально ни слова не понимала (по-русски!!).

Мне кажется, что всё это было немного лишним, но с другой стороны, у меня нет премии Фолкнера, а у Гутерсона есть.

И книжка в любом случае прекрасная.

Она показалась мне одновременно ужасно трагичной и очень утешительной.

Трагичной - из-за самой смерти Карла (это не спойлер, с этого все начинается). Причем Карл мертв с первой страницы, но трагичность настигает тебя где-то ближе к концу. Почти всю дорогу до этого он немного реквизит - мертвое тело, толчок к сюжету, отправная точка для всей истории. Но чем дальше, тем чаще он становится реальным - человеком, который жил, у которого была жизнь, который строил планы и собирался что-то делать, и который, покинув своих близких, оставил в их жизни ничем не заполняемую дыру.
Нелепая случайность, неосторожность - и всё. Я вот всё думаю, сколько у нас всех таких неосторожностей - все мы едем чуть быстрее, чем надо; перебегаем дорогу перед автомобилем, который чуть ближе, чем надо; моем окна, высовываясь из них чуть сильнее, чем надо. А ведь одного мгновения хватит, чтобы рррраз - и всё.

Утешительной - потому что когда дочитала, моей первой мыслью было, что хорошее в людях все-таки побеждает плохое. Это реально утешительно и как-то воодушевляюще. Потом я, правда, подумала, что дай волю тем присяжным, и они бы отправили Кабуо на виселицу просто за то, что он японец, но... Но в итоге все равно остаюсь с тем, первым ощущением: что все мы, конечно, немножко нехорошие люди, и иногда делаем нехорошие вещи (и иногда хотим делать нехорошие вещи), но все же чаще делаем правильный выбор - выбор "не быть мудаком".

P.S. И мне безумно нравится название. Snow falling on cedars. Снег на кедрах. От него веет тишиной и покоем. ( )
  alissee | Dec 8, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Gutersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Demanuelli, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Demanuelli, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krüger, ChristaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award 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 a man's guilt. For on San Pedro, 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 land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense-- one that leaves us shaken and changed. Haunting. A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper.

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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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