Sushi and Sourdough

Tooru Kanazawa, Author University of Washington Press $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-295-96713-4
A combination of novel and memoir, this uneven story records the life of a first-generation American, like the author a Japanese barber's son raised in Washington State and Alaska in the early part of the century. Tora Fuse experiences frontier hardships, knows family solidarity and tension and finds racial prejudice and acceptance. (Eskimos stripped by the U.S. government of their rights presage what will happen in the '40s to his people.) His father's quest for gold ends with Tora, age 12, working in a salmon canning plant. Supposedly fictional characters feel remembered as though from life, reconstructed out of family myth or designed to deliver bits of history in speeches on subjects such as the origin of chopsticks. Descriptions range from wonderfully apt--a man has sideburns shaped like fish hooks--to inept--waves that chuckle, breezes that sing. As a whole, the book sags as fiction, and soars as popular history. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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