Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei

David Mura, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $22.95 (376p) ISBN 978-0-87113-431-8
An American poet of Japanese descent, Mura first went to Japan in 1984, to live in Tokyo for a year with his wife. He learned Japanese, studied Noh and Butoh dance, traveled and found himself receptive to aspects of a culture that many Americans have found off-putting. A record of his observations, this volume is imbued with a youthful, exploratory tone that takes on greater seriousness as Mura realizes that in the U.S. he had labored under a subtle discrimination. Amid ``thousands of faces that look like mine'' he discovers a sudden, heady sense of belonging. Yet ultimately this is his working-through of what it means to be an Asian who feels more at home in America than in his ancestral country (``too rule-oriented, too polite, too circumscribed''). Mura's effort is not without flaws--the dialogue can be awkward and the book, at 370 pages, would have profited from tightening. But it seems an honest account, and is at all times interesting. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-385-42344-1
Paperback - 386 pages - 978-0-8021-4239-9
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