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Author Spotlight: Joy Kogawa

abstract:Canadian writer, poet, activist and social commentator, Joy Kogawa has become a voice for displaced persons.  Her first novel, Obasan tells the story of her childhood relocation from home to an internment camp, circa WWII. Rated as one of the important books of this generation, it has now been adapted into an opera called "Naomi's Road" that is generating interest, along with a movement to secure her childhood home as a monument and writer's retreat.

article:

February 17, 2006

 Author Bio

Joy Kogawa was born in Vancouver in 1935. As a second-generation Japanese Canadian or nisei, she tells the stories of Japanese-Canadians in her writing.

Under the War Measures Act in 1942, many Japanese Canadians lost their property and possessions in the relocation to internment camps. Kogawa and her family were evacuated to Slocan, British Columbia and later to Coaldale, Alberta during the Second World War.

After the war Kogawa pursued studies in education at the University of Alberta and taught elementary school in Coaldale for a year. She then studied music at the University of Toronto followed by studies at the Anglican Women's Training College and the University of Saskatchewan.

In 1957, she married, had two children, and divorced in 1968.

From 1983 to 1985 Kogawa worked with the National Association of Japanese Canadians. She has also been involved in seeking redress from the Canadian government for the internment of twenty thousand Japanese Canadians during World War II. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada, which recognizes lifetime achievement and merit in service to Canada or to humanity at large.

The central character of Obasan is a girl named Namoi, who appears in the children's story Naomi's Road and also in Itsuka. The latter text concentrates on the emotional and political involvement of Naomi in the Japanese-Canadian redress movement. Kogawa's novel, The Rain Ascends, deals with an emotional issue of a different kind: the sexual abuse of children by a Protestant clergyman. Her book length poem, A Song of Lilith published in 2001 is a collaborative work on the mythical figure of Lilith (Adam's "first" wife). —Karin Beeler beeler@unbc.ca

Join The Effort To Save Joy's House

http://www.kogawahouse.com/ 

Selected Works

  • The Rain Ascends Knopf Canada, 1995.

  • Book CoverNaomi's Road Oxford University Press, 1986; Stoddart Publishing Co Limited., 1994.
  •      

    Itsuka Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1993.



 

  • Woman in the Woods. Mosaic Press, 1985.
  • Obasan Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1983.

Awards

For Obasan:

  • First Novel Award, Books in Canada,
  • Book of the Year Award. Canadian Authors Association
  • Best Paperback Fiction Award, Periodical Distributors of Canada
  • The American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation  

 

 

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