** The Little Exile by Jeanette Arakawa

The Little Exile presents itself as a novel that’s very heavily inspired by the author’s real life, as a young Japanese-American who lived in California and was interned, with her parents and brother, in a camp with minimal comforts, after Pearl Harbor.

The story is poignant, both at a personal level, for its young heroine, and also as a scandalous racist act. I wonder why the author chose to present it as a novel. Perhaps to avoid embarrassing family members? It’s too bad because parts of it seem to flow much better, perhaps because they are simple (and evocative) descriptions of what really happened, while others seem forced, even unbelievable. For instance, when the family is forced to leave its San Francisco business and home, the claim is that a large number of neighbors gather to wish them well–but at the same time the forced sale of the business was for a pittance. One would think that the two would not be compatible.

My favorite book on this topic remains When the Emperor Was Divine.

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