19 Jun “Recovering a Lost Novel of Japanese American Resistance” via Yes Magazine
In this excerpt from “John Okada: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy,” I recount discovering “No-No Boy” and the process of getting republished.
Here’s a snippet:
“There was no Asian American studies. I was the only Asian American writer that I knew in the entire world, but it dawned on me, in 1969 at age 20, that there must be others out there. I started looking, and I found a lot of bad books: Charlie Chan books, Fu Manchu books, tour guides, restaurant guides, cookbooks filled with stereotypes, from non-Chinese writers, or non-Asian writers posing as Asian writers. My teacher, Kay Boyle, mentioned that one of her creative writing graduate students was Jeffery Chan at San Francisco State. He was also an unpublished writer. I got in touch, and Jeffery said, “Oh, you live in Berkeley, there’s this guy named Frank Chin who lives right down the street from you.” I called Frank and said, “I understand you are a writer and you’ve actually published something. I’d like to meet you.” And so between the three of us, we started a quest to find other books. We trolled the used bookstores on Telegraph Avenue and found an anthology of Fresno poets; on the cover was a group photo of 20 poets, one of whom looked Asian. It turned out to be Lawson Inada. And so the four of us, we figured we couldn’t be the only Asian American writers in the world. There must have been someone who came before.”