Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-15-100100-2
This poetic novel beautifully captures the painful legacy of war and a community's struggle to deal with that pain. Shortly after WWII, fisherman Carl Heine is found dead in the waters off San Pedro, an island of ``damp souls'' off the coast of Washington State. Accused of his murder is fellow fisherman Kabuo Miyomoto, a member one of the many families of Japanese descent on the island. All of the island's inhabitants are gripped by the murder trial, but none more so than Ishmael Chambers, a local reporter who lost his arm in the Pacific theater, and Hutsue Imada, Kabuo's wife and Ishmael's former lover. First-novelist Guterson, a contributing editor at Harper's and author of the short-story collection The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, pays meticulous attention to the legal intricacies of Kabuo's trial. His greater purpose, however, and one that he achieves with skill and grace, is an investigation of racism, the nature of justice and the ``same human frailty passed from generation to generation.'' This is a luxurious book, whose finely detailed evocation of its small-town setting effectively draws the reader to consider its larger issues. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/12/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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