Camp Nine

Vivienne Schiffer. Univ. of Arkansas, $29.95 (151p) ISBN 978-1-55728-972-8
In Schiffer's finely wrought debut novel—set in Rook, Ark. in 1942—12-year old Chess Morton's quiet life of plantations and bayous changes abruptly after her wealthy landowning grandfather sells some worthless land to the government. Housing 10,000 new residents, Camp Nine becomes one of many camps where West Coast Japanese were held in isolation during WWII. Chess's bored widowed mother, who had studied art in California, offers to teach art classes to the Japanese. After she enlists a reluctant Chess to help her, mother and daughter become friends with the Matsui family, including sons Henry and David. Henry enlists, but his father is imprisoned for failing to correctly answer a government questionnaire. Mrs. Matsui, shunned by the other women because they felt her husband brought dishonor to his family, has a nervous breakdown, and David attempts to romance a daughter from a hard-scrabble white sharecropper family. As she watches her mother thwart local conventions by championing the Japanese, Chess matures. Schiffer immerses readers in the thick bayou air and community tensions. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next