Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

September marks the start of narwhal migration season, but this fragile species is facing new challenges posed by global warming, commercial fishing, and seismic testing. Here Todd McLeish, author of Narhwals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World details some of the perilous new threats this endangered marine mammal faces in its annual move to warmer waters.

Mid-September is the beginning of migration season for nearly the entire population of 80,000 narwhals that spend the summer in the bays and fjords of the High Arctic islands of eastern Canada and the west coast of Greenland. After spending the ice-free months of July, August, and early September traveling in large groups, raising their calves, and eating next to nothing, they are beginning their slow journey to the southern end of Baffin Bay. They will be forced south for several hundred miles, keeping ahead of the southward expansion of sea ice until November when they reach what will be the edge of the winter ice pack, which typically extends across the Davis Strait from southern Baffin Island to the central coast of Greenland. There they will repeatedly dive to the seafloor — nearly a mile below — to feed on abundant fish and squid. The 30-minute round trip feeding forays aren’t without risks, as they must not only find food but also an opening in the ice cover to breathe while avoiding Greenland sharks in the water column and waiting polar bears at the surface.

But the greater threats they face lay not in the predators they have avoided for tens of thousands of years — including killer whales, their chief summertime predator — but in the increasing threats resulting from a warming climate. We read a great deal in the news about the declining summer ice that is likely to make the North Pole ice free in summer in just a few years, but little is written about the changing weather patterns that cause shifts in the ice, opening leads for marine mammals to surface to breath and quickly closing them again, sometimes entrapping whales and sending them to their death. September is a particularly risky month for ice entrapments, as the longer ice-free periods entice the whales to stay north longer than they should.

Photo by Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Stock

Recent events are likely to add additional stresses to the population of narwhals and other marine mammals in the area. A newly approved plan by the Canadian government for seismic testing in Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait, which is currently being challenged in court by several Inuit communities, is likely to have a significant effect on narwhals. The animals are skittish and easily frightened by minor noises like splashing by Inuit kayakers, so the loud noises from seismic testing and future oil and gas drilling could force them to abandon their wintering and nursery grounds altogether.

Similar problems are likely to arise as increased shipping occurs in the Arctic Ocean. Seventy-one cargo ships traveled a route north of Russia to get from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic in 2013, and those numbers are expected to increase dramatically in coming years. The first cruise ship will cross the Northwest Passage north of Canada and Alaska in 2016, opening the region to expanded travel and tourism that is unlikely to benefit whale populations. And longer ice-free periods each year are already expanding the commercial fishing season in Greenland, which is in direct competition with narwhals, who primarily feed upon the same species targeted by the fishermen, Greenland halibut and Arctic cod.

Although it was just 18 months ago that Narwhals was first published, its predictions about the future threats the animals would face appear to be coming true sooner than expected.

McLeish, Todd 2--credit Renay McLeishTodd McLeish is the author of Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World, which is newly available in paperback. His other publications included Golden Wings and Hairy Toes: Encounters with New England’s Most Imperiled Wildlife and Basking with Humpbacks: Tracking Threatened Marine Life in New England Waters. He lives in Pascoag, Rhode Island.

The Promise of Wilderness

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, a piece of legislation that now protects more than 100 million acres of American land from development. In this guest post, James Morton Turner, author of The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964, contends that the Wilderness Act gave us much more than millions of acreage of wild lands–it gave us a political process that engaged citizens can use to protect and advocate for the conservation of other lands, both wild and public.

The map of the National Wilderness Preservation System is the legacy of five decades of wilderness advocacy. From the shifting sands of Passage Key in Florida to the mountain highlands of the La Garita Wilderness in Colorado to the vast expanses of the Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska, one out of every twenty acres in the United States has been set aside in perpetuity as wilderness. Those areas are meant to be, as the Wilderness Act proclaimed, “an enduring resource for the American people.”

wilderness map

Map of the National Wilderness Preservation System as of 2009, from “The Promise of Wilderness.”

For those who have worked hardest to protect wilderness, that map does not represent 758 wilderness areas that are now isolated and effectively insulated from future challenges and threats. Instead, it affirms something John Muir learned over a century ago: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” The health of the nation’s wildest landscapes depends on the health of the larger landscapes in which they are embedded.

Protecting wilderness means protecting the surrounding public lands, on which the water, wildlife, and aesthetics of wilderness depend. Protecting wilderness means cultivating a rural landscape and economy in which people can work the land sustainably. Protecting wilderness means engaging in other environmental issues, such as climate change, which will transform even the wildest of places. And, finally, protecting wilderness means fostering a healthy political landscape—the future of wilderness depends on a vibrant and engaged polity too.

Most critiques of wilderness begin and end with the Wilderness Act. Specifically, they highlight the definition of wilderness: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Critics argue that such a wilderness ideal, which draws a sharp line between humans and nature, perpetuates a romantic conceptualization of wild nature that is, at best, naive, and has little to offer in the face of the most pressing modern environmental dilemmas. But the problem with such readings of the Wilderness Act is that they often stop at that definition.

The Wilderness Act did more than set forth a definition; it also established a political process. That process has been the engine that has powered a sustained political effort to designate additional wilderness and protect the public lands. As many observers agree, although they rarely look to wilderness advocacy as a model, it is such political engagement that modern American environmentalism needs more of, not less. Instead of a retreat from pressing realities, wilderness advocacy has been an ongoing exercise in citizen organizing, policy negotiations, and judicial and administrative maneuvers. Wilderness means more than pristine wild lands, backpacking adventures, or a stronghold for biodiversity; wilderness also means engaging citizens—both for and against wild lands protections—in a sustained discussion toward the common interest.

All of that is the promise of wilderness.

James Morton Turner is the author of The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964 and an associate professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College.


UW Press News, Reviews, and Events


Howard Zahniser, architect of the Wilderness Act.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, several authors in our Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series are partaking in the commemorations.

Mark Harvey, author of The Wilderness Writings of Howard Zahniser and Wilderness Forever: Howard Zahniser and the Path to the Wilderness Act, was interviewed by Colorado Public Radio about the Act’s rocky start. Listen to the full interview here. Harvey will also participate in the Visions of the Wild conference, to be held in early September in Vallejo, California.

Paul Sutter, Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series editor and author of Driven Wild: How the Fight Against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement moderated the panel, “Wilderness Idea” at the USDA Forest Services’s Cradle of Wilderness event. A digital recording of the program will be available here.

Stay tuned for more events, interviews, and blog posts about the Wilderness Act in the coming weeks and months.


How to Read the American West by William Wyckoff, reviewed in High Country News:

“A field guide unlike any other, with a focus on patterns, variations and the distribution of landscape features….it draws attention to eco-tones, watersheds, settlement patterns and corridors of connection…ultimately, it considers our grip on the land and the land’s grip on us. –Michael Engelhard, High Country News


No-No Boy by John Okada, reviewed in Shelf Awareness:

“[This new edition] brings Okada’s groundbreaking work to a new generation…an internee and enlisted man himself, [Okada] wrote in a raw, brutal stream of consciousness that echoes the pain and intergenerational conflict faced by those struggling to reconcile their heritage to the concept of an American dream. –Nancy Powell, Shelf Awareness



Confronting Memories of World War II: European and Asian Legacies, edited by Daniel Chirot, Gi-Wook Shin, and Daniel Sneider, reviewed in Foreign Affairs:

“Wars evoke powerful emotions: grief and pride, humiliation and honor, outrage and exultation. As this excellent volume reveals, such feelings can come to form essential parts of national mythologies, and this has been especially so in the case of World War II.” –Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs



Upcoming Events

Lan Duong and Mariam B. Lam, Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora, Pomona Public Library, September 6 at 1 p.m.

William Wyckoff, How to Read the American West: A Field Guide, Western National Parks Association, September 24 at 12:00 and 2:00 p.m.

Jeffrey Karl Ochsner with Feliks Banel, Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, Second Edition, Town Hall Seattle, September 29 at 7:30 p.m.

New Books

Mary Randlett Portraits
By Frances McCue
Photographs by Mary Randlett
Known for both her landscapes and portraits, Mary Randlett began documenting Northwest figures in 1963 when Theodore Roethke asked her to photograph him in his Seattle home. Hers were the last pictures taken of the poet before his death, and the portraits garnered international attention.

Randlett’s photographs represent an artistic and literary history of the Pacific Northwest. No other book brings together these important historical figures from the rich past and present of this region. A curated collection of ninety photographs from the more than six hundred portraits she took of Northwest artists, writers, and cultural luminaries, Mary Randlett Portraits documents the region’s artistic legacy through one woman’s camera lens.

Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge
By Lincoln Bramwell, foreword by William Cronon

Since the 1950s, the housing developments in the West that historian Lincoln Bramwell calls “wilderburbs” have offered residents both the pleasures of living in nature and the creature comforts of the suburbs. Remote from cities but still within commuting distance, nestled next to lakes and rivers or in forests and deserts, and often featuring spectacular views of public lands, wilderburbs celebrate the natural beauty of the American West and pose a vital threat to it. By looking at wilderburbs in the West, especially those in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, Bramwell uncovers the profound environmental consequences of Americans’ desire to live in the wilderness.

 A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States
By Gordon Hirabayashi with James A. Hirabayashi and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi
New Paperback Edition

In 1943, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the curfew and mass removal of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and was subsequently convicted and imprisoned as a result. In A Principled Stand, Gordon’s brother James and nephew Lane have brought together his prison diaries and voluminous wartime correspondence to tell the story of Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court case that in 1943 upheld and on appeal in 1987 vacated his conviction. For the first time, the events of the case are told in Gordon’s own words. The result is a compelling and intimate story that reveals what motivated him, how he endured, and how his ideals changed and deepened as he fought discrimination and defended his beliefs.

Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World
By Todd McLeish
New Paperback Edition

Among all the large whales on Earth, the most unusual and least studied is the narwhal, the northernmost whale on the planet and the one most threatened by global warming. Narwhals thrive in the fjords and inlets of northern Canada and Greenland. These elusive whales, whose long tusks were the stuff of medieval European myths and Inuit legends, are uniquely adapted to the Arctic ecosystem and are able to dive below thick sheets of ice to depths of up to 1,500 meters in search of their prey-halibut, cod, and squid. From a history of the trade in narwhal tusks to descriptions of narwhals’ vocalizations as heard through hydrophones, Narwhals reveals the beauty and thrill of the narwhal and its habitat, and the threat it faces from a rapidly changing world.

Behind the Covers: “No-No Boy”

NoNo-OkadaJohn Okada‘s classic novel, No-No Boy, tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version of a real-life “no-no boy.” During World War II, Yamada answered “no” twice in a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to the United States. Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro earned two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle. As Ruth Ozeki writes in her introduction to the new edition of the book, Ichiro’s “obsessive, tormented” voice subverts Japanese postwar “model-minority” stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man’s “threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world.”

First published in 1956, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and the Japanese internment behind them. It was not until the mid-1970s that a new generation of Japanese American writers and scholars recognized the novel’s importance and popularized it as one of literature’s most powerful testaments to the Asian American experience. In 2014, the University of Washington Press brought out a new edition of the book, with hopes of introducing it to yet another generation of readers. In this guest post, designer Thomas Eykemans discusses his process of creating the cover for this new edition of the book. 

No-No Boy is among the most important books that the University of Washington Press publishes. It was vital for me to understand it as best I could before approaching the design of this new reissue. After reading it and learning about its historical context, I did extensive research into past iterations of the book, including a dramatization. It seemed clear that, as historical fiction, an illustration would be the most appropriate approach.


Alternative interpretations of “No-No Boy.” Left to right: the original 1956 jacket design; a 1979 Japanese edition; a poster for a 2010 play adapted from the book.


The 1976 paperback edition of “No-No Boy,” published by UW Press and designed by Koji Onodera. The original cover was printed using four spot colors (black, brown, red, and a tiny bit of blue). Years later, in an effort to reduce printing costs, it was reduced to two colors (black and red). Without the blue ink, the United States flag became unrecognizable, resulting in the oddly unsettling cover that most people are familiar with.

We reached out to Jillian Tamaki, an award-winning contemporary illustrator who teaches at the School of Visual Arts and recently released her second graphic novel. We were impressed with her dramatic and expressive work for clients such as Vintage and the Folio Society, and hoped that she might be able to contribute a fresh interpretation of No-No Boy.


Preliminary sketches by Jillian Tamaki.

After several rounds of sketches, we settled on a downcast profile of Ichiro overlaid with a bold title. The typeface is a modified Futura, a geometric sans-serif that was ubiquitous in the 1950s and appropriate to the era. The downward diagonals of the “N” and “Y” letterforms intersect the upward angle of the profile, creating a tense visual “X” that pulls the eye to the center before expanding outward. The soft, cool tones of the illustration contrast the intense warmth of the title while also alluding to the national colors of the U.S. and Japanese flags. These elements combine to evoke the deeply conflicted character of Ichiro and his struggles to find his place.

No-No Boy by John Okada

The 2014 paperback edition of “No-No Boy,” designed by Thomas Eykemans and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.

Robert Cantwell: A Northwest Writer Reworks American Fiction

Robert Cantwell—pioneer of the modern Pacific Northwest novel and Ernest Hemingway’s “best bet” for American fiction—has remained relatively unknown in the history of American literature. Until now. A new book, Robert Cantwell and the Literary Left: A Northwest Writer Reworks American Fiction, attempts to reclaim Cantwell’s legacy while also revealing the role he played in centering workers in twentieth-century American fiction. Here, author T.V. Reed discusses why reviving Cantwell’s literary legacy is essential to understanding both the literary history of the Pacific Northwest as well as broader trends in American history.

Robert Cantwell (1908–1978) is a lost writer of the Pacific Northwest. Born near Centralia and raised in the lumber towns of western Washington in the early years of the twentieth century, he became a significant literary figure in the New York of the 1930s. Yet he is now virtually unknown to all but a handful of experts on the literature of that era. He was Ernest Hemingway’s “best bet” for a fiction writer of his generation. F. Scott Fitzgerald said he “had a destiny as [a literary] star.” Cantwell rose to prominence in New York left literary circles based upon a fine first novel, Laugh and Lie Down, a kind of Northwest version of a Fitzgerald “lost generation” novel, and a superb second one, The Land of Plenty, the brilliant tale of the complex emotions at play during a lumber mill strike in a town like the Aberdeen of his adolescence. But his accomplishments as a writer with leftist beliefs and devoted to the idea that ordinary working folks should have their stories told with dignity in serious literature, ran afoul of the vicious post–Word War II anticommunism and McCarthyism, and his legacy has largely been buried.

Figure 4The historian of Northwest literature, Bruce Barcott notes that Cantwell’s The Land of Plenty, “the first modern novel to come out of the Northwest [was] innovative and brutal and gripping at the same time. If it had been set in New York or Chicago it would still be on college reading lists. It’s just a shame that it’s lost in the musty stacks instead.” I hope that my book, along with a lovely new edition of The Land of Plenty from Pharos Editions, will help bring Cantwell out of the dusty stacks and closer to the attention he deserves as a significant American and Northwest writer.

But my goal is not simply to rescue one talented fiction writer and critic from oblivion. I also want to draw greater attention to a much larger gap in popular knowledge about American literature and culture. For Cantwell was at the heart of a large-scale transformation that occurred in mid-twentieth-century U.S. culture, a transformation that Michael Denning has called “the laboring of American culture.”

Cantwell’s story matters both on its own merits and also because it gives insight into this larger mid-twentieth-century cultural process that moved millions of working-class U.S. citizens from the margins to the center of the society, only to subtly and not-so-subtly remarginalize them during and after the Cold War era. Failure to acknowledge this cultural project has meant that millions of everyday American workers have remained largely absent from the story of American literature and the wider story of US culture. I hope my book will play a small role in  reminding us of the point driven home by the Occupy Wall Street Movement,  that  social class  inequality in America is a key fact we must face head-on if we are to honor our pledge of liberty and justice for all.”

T. V. Reed is Buchanan Distinguished Professor at Washington State University. He is also the author of The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle.

On August 27 at 7:00 p.m., T.V. Reed and Jess Walter—author of the new introduction to The Land of Plenty—will appear in conversation at Seattle Public Library. This event is cohosted by Seattle Public Library, Elliott Bay Book Company, and Pharos Editions. Learn more here.


Fall 2014 Events Preview

Readings, book talks, and signings give us a chance to do what we love most: build community and conversations around the written word. This fall, we have an exciting range of events lined up—from award-winning photography and rediscovered literary legacies to climate change and conservation activism, we’ve got you covered. We feature below a preview of a few of the local book events that we’re especially excited about, but be sure to check our events calendar for more opportunities to meet our authors in Seattle and beyond.

August 27: Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Robert Cantwell

T.V. Reed in conversation with Jess Walter // Seattle Public Library // 7:00 p.m.

Robert Cantwell

Robert Cantwell

Cantwell has been called the pioneer of the modern Pacific Northwest novel and ran in the same New York literary circles as Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. Indeed, Hemingway considered Cantwell his “best bet for American fiction.” Yet few have heard of Robert Cantwell and his work.

As T.V. Reed shows in his new book, Robert Cantwell and the Literary Left: A Northwest Writer Reworks American Fiction, Cantwell found himself more and more at odds with the Literary Left as the movement shifted from focusing on American working-class socialism to supporting communist efforts across the globe. After publishing The Land of Plenty —a novel of the working-class set in Western Washington—to great acclaim in 1934, Cantwell abandoned novel-writing for a quieter career in journalism. As a result, his literary legacy was nearly forgotten.

In 2012, Seattle publisher, Pharos Editions, brought The Land of Plenty, back into print with a new introduction by New York Times best-selling author Jess Walter. The publication of Robert Cantwell and the Literary Left rounds out the effort to reintroduce Cantwell’s life and work to the broader public.

We hope that Jess Walter and T.V. Reed’s appearance at the Seattle Public Library will be the beginning of a much larger conversation about Cantwell’s contributions to Pacific Northwest and American literature.

More information here.

September 29: Seattle’s Greatest Architects

space needle2Jeffrey Karl Ochsner in conversation with Feliks Banel // Town Hall Seattle // 7:30 p.m.

The Space Needle, Gas Works Park, and Seattle Central Library are only a few of the city’s most unique architectural elements. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, Second Editon looks behind the scenes of our well-known landmarks, parks, and residential buildings to profile the architects who made it all possible. First released in 1994, the second edition includes updated information and profiles of four new architects, including pioneering female architect Jane Hastings and Richard Haag, of Bloedel Reserve Fame. This collection of 55 essays—ranging from early Puget Sound residential dwellings, to World War II developments and modern institutions—was edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, professor of architecture at the University of Washington. He’ll appear in conversation with Feliks Banel, producer of “PIE” on KCTS 9 and host of “This NOT Just In” on KUOW 94.9.

More information and tickets here.

October 14: Images of the Northwest

Mary Randlett in conversation with Frances McCue // Town Hall Seattle // 7:30 p.m.

Pacific Northwest photographer Mary Randlett has been documenting notable local figures since her iconic 1963 images of Theodore Roethke — the last before the poet’s death. Mary Randlett Portraits includes images of Roethke, author Tom Robbins, art patron Betty Bowen, artist Jacob Lawrence, and more. Frances McCue, founding director of Hugo House, contributed biographical essays to accompany the photographs. McCue and Randlett will share the vision behind this collection of the artistic and literary culture of Washington, offering a glimpse at the great figures of the past and present.

More information and tickets here.

October 20: The Politics of Climate Change

Joshua Howe // Seattle Public Library // 7:00 p.m.

Howe, Joshua -- credit Casey NolanThe dangerous effects of global warming on health, ecosystems, natural disasters, and economics are at an all-time high, according to a recent United Nations report. Despite a better understanding of the science behind climate change, author Joshua Howe says we still don’t have a handle on this environmental problem. In Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming, he traces the history of the global warming debate, beginning with Charles D. Keeling’s 1958 readings of CO2. Howe says a solution is hard to find because political opponents focus on the science behind these discoveries, rather than what they say about our changing planet. In a history fraught with developing world vs. the developed world and liberals vs. conservatives, understanding the past is an important step in moving forward. Howe is a professor of history and environmental studies at Reed College.

More information to come.

October 26: Saving the Great Bear Wild

Ian McAllister // Town Hall Seattle // 7:30 p.m.

???????????Ian McAllister is a conservation activist who masterfully wields both camera and pen to document one of the last truly wild places in North America, the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. In 2010, he was named a Leader of the 21st century by Time magazine for his work in cofounding the environmental advocacy organization, Pacific Wild, which he continues to run.

McAllister’s new book, Great Bear Wild: Dispatches from a Northern Rainforest, combines photographs of the astonishing biodiversity of the Great Bear Rainforest with essays that illustrate the many threats that climate change, oil pipelines, and resource extraction pose to the region.  The book features a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who situates McAllister’s work within broader questions about wildlife conservation and energy consumption.

Jane Goodall comments on the book, “Through breathtaking photographs and moving prose, McAllister’s Great Bear Wild presents a compelling case for the urgent need to protect, in perpetuity, one of the most magnificent ecosystems on the planet—the increasingly threatened Great Bear Rainforest.”

More information to come. McAllister will also speak at the Portland Audubon Society on October 28.

November 10: Citizen Activism in the Making of Modern Seattle

R.M. Campbell, Mary Coney, and Wes Uhlman with David Brewster // Town Hall Seattle // 7:30 p.m.

05.01In the 1950s, the city of Seattle began a transformation from an insular, provincial outpost to a vibrant and cosmopolitan cultural center. As veteran Seattle journalist R. M. Campbell illustrates in Stirring Up Seattle: Allied Arts in the Civic Landscape, this transformation was catalyzed in part by the efforts of a group of civic arts boosters originally known as “The Beer and Culture Society.” This “merry band” of lawyers, architects, writers, designers, and university professors, eventually known as Allied Arts of Seattle, lobbied for public funding for the arts, helped avert the demolition of Pike Place Market, and were involved in a wide range of crusades and campaigns in support of historic preservation, cultural institutions, and urban livability.

In a discussion guided by Town Hall founder, David Brewster, members of the original Allied Arts group—Mary Coney and R.M. Campbell—and former Seattle mayor, Wes Uhlman, will examine the role of citizen activism in making Seattle what it is today.

More information to come.

UW Press News, Reviews, and Events


Our new Classics of Asian American Literature series has been getting a lot of attention lately:

Our new edition of Mine Okubo’s Citizen 13660 will be featured along with nine other graphic novels in the September 2014 issue of Foreword Reviews:

“Originally published in 1946, Citizen 13660 is a documentation of life inside the World War II “relocation centers” for those of Japanese ancestry. This oft-overlooked portion of American history is brought poignantly to life by Okubo’s expressive ink drawings and accompanying text…Without a doubt, this book should be on required reading lists for high schools across the country.”

The International Examiner featured a review of Monica Sone’s Nisei Daughter:

“Nisei Daughter is a book of its time, but it deserves to be read and re-read and considered within changing cultural perspectives and treasured for the voice it gives to a period in American history that still needs to be understood and should never be forgotten.” Read the full review here.


In a Facebook post, writer Ruth Ozeki reflected on her experience writing the foreword to the new edition of John Okada’s No-No Boy:

“The University of Washington Press asked me to write a foreword (excerpted here) for their beautiful new edition of the classic novel, No-No Boy, by John Okada. The novel centers around the infamous loyalty questionnaire given to Japanese-American men during WWII, and in particular the bitter experience of a young man who refuses to serve in the U.S. armed forces and swear loyalty to the country that had interned him and his family.

I decided to write the foreword as a letter to John Okada, who died in 1971, never realizing that his novel would become a classic. I wanted him to know that his book is still being read. I think he would be proud of this new edition.”

Finally, our Classics of Asian American Literature initiative was featured in this article from Asian American News. We appreciate all the coverage and hope it will help in our mission to bring these books out to a new generation of readers! Continue reading