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Snow Falling on Cedars (1994)

by David Guterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,974190479 (3.76)383
Fiction. Literature. HTML:Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award â?Ş American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award
"Haunting....A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper."â??Los Angeles Times

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 strawberriesâ??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 suspenseâ??one that leaves us shaken and changed.
"Compelling...heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written."â??New York Times B
… (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
    The Sky Fisherman by Craig Lesley (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books show a love for the Pacific Northwest in their setting.
  5. 10
    Sole Survivor by Derek Hansen (KimarieBee)
    KimarieBee: Internment, but in different circumstances
  6. 10
    Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg (Friederike.Geissler)
  7. 01
    The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (sturlington)
    sturlington: Small-town island settings.
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» See also 383 mentions

English (177)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  German (2)  Latvian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (188)
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
Really enjoyed this book. Managed to successfully blend elements of romance, courtroom drama and coming of age into a thouroughly satisfying mixture. Elements reminded me of mockingbird, and I thought that the author did a good job of capturing some of the complexity of racism . Will definitely try to leRn more about internment ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
This is a carefully told tale of prejudice and racism and circumstantial evidence leading to a murder trial in a small fishing and farming community. It takes in a lot of detail about the Japanese internment camps during WWII, generational agreements and disagreements, and historic relationships. Its really well told, though a little slow in places as it gradually unfolds. I don't feel like the women are written especially well but overall I think its really atmospheric. The weather becomes a character in its own right as a snow storm comes in to disrupt the trial. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Dec 16, 2023 |
I can see why some people would dislike it. It did get slow in parts. I had a difficult time getting through the internment camp section, but I loved the story and the writing. I've read it twice. It suited me. ( )
  MickeyMole | Oct 2, 2023 |
I thought I was about to dive into a cozy romance. Nope! It opened up in court where a Japanese, Kabuo Miyamoto, was on trial for the murder of another islander, a gill-netter, Carl Heine. Crap! I can’t stand law and order and courtroom novels. BUT, this one’s different. I ended up loving it. The story is actually told in-between witnesses, and boy was it told. The author had done incredible research to tell this story. Every aspect of it was so real and true, from the lives of the islanders, young love, the experience of the Japanese concentration camps, to the racism against the Japanese in the 1950’s, which was still strong after the bombing of Pearl Harbor just ten years earlier. He did great in setting the scene for Washington and making you feel like you were there.

There was no reading through pages and pages of court proceedings. Although, I felt he could have left out the “retelling” of the whole murder incident by the journalist on the last several pages that seemed to go on and on.

The story is set in 1954, September 15 and 16th to be exact, on fictitious San Piedro Island in Washington. (This island is said to actually be based on the real Bainbridge Island.)

In 1940’s, Kabuo’s father had made arrangements with Carl’s father, Carl Sr., to purchase 7 acres of land for growing strawberries at a time when it was unlawful for Japanese, or any foreigners, to even own land in the U.S. Carl’s mother, Etta, was as racist as they came and never wanted Carl Sr. to sell any of their land to the Japanese, but the agreement was made and was to be completed by the time Kabuo was to become a citizen of the U.S.

The Miyamoto’s couldn’t make the last two payments because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the war with Japan. All the Japanese around the U.S. were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps. This included the Miyamoto’s and all the other Japanese on the island. Unfortunately, during this time, Carl Sr. died of a heart-attack and Etta sold the strawberry land out from underneath the Miyamoto’s.

It’s now 1954, and Etta's son, Carl Jr., is found dead. He was found drowned and all tangled up in his gill net with a big gash and cracked skull behind his left ear. They believed it was murder, and they believed Kabuo, Carl’s long-time friend, who had his land stolen out from under him by this family, was the culprit. The evidence seemed to be piling up against him, and so was the prejudice.

Ishmael Chambers, a journalist, is very interested in this case because he and Kabuo’s wife, Hatsue, had a young-love, secret affair while in high school. Ishmael was sent off to war to fight the Japanese and Hatsue was sent off to a concentration camp with her family. Their love would never be. It was absolutely forbidden, but Ishmael was trapped inside his own head after coming back from the war with only one arm and having lost Hatsue. He never married and never had children. Hatsue had moved on. She married and now had three children by Kabuo and living life back on the island.

At the end of the trial, Ishmael had gone to the U.S. Coast Guard station and researched what exactly the weather and ships in the channel were doing the night of Carl’s death. He found evidence that there was a ship that had been re-routed through the Shipping Channel and would definitely have caused a wake that ended up knocking Carl off the boat and killing him, but was holding back that information until he realized what a loser he was, in life in general, and how bad he must have appeared to Hatsue. He ended up doing the right thing because it was the descent thing to do as a human-being, but also to prove to himself (and maybe even to Hatsue) that he was worth more than just printing school and town functions and advertisements in his father’s newspaper, which he had taken over after his father’s death. This evidence caused the judge to declare a mistrial and the case was thrown out of court, giving Kabuo back his life.
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MOVIE: "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999), starring Ethan Hawke as Ishmael Chambers (Journalist) and others I don't really know. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Haunting work inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird.
( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guterson, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Demanuelli, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Demanuelli, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krüger, ChristaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MÄłn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
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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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Fiction. Literature. HTML:Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award â?Ş American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award
"Haunting....A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper."â??Los Angeles Times

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 strawberriesâ??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 suspenseâ??one that leaves us shaken and changed.
"Compelling...heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written."â??New York Times B

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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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