Synopses & Reviews
"In a weaving meditation, Brandon Shimoda pens an elegant eulogy for his grandfather Midori, yet also for the living, we who survive on the margins of graveyards and rituals of our own making." Karen Tei Yamashita, author of Letters to Memory
Born on an island off the cost of Hiroshima around 1908, Midori Shimoda died in North Carolina in 1996, after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for two decades. A photographer, he was incarcerated in a Department of Justice prison during WWII under suspicion of being a spy for Japan. From his birth to contract laborer/picture-bride parents to his immigration and prewar life in Seattle's Nihonmachi, to wartime incarceration and postwar resettlement in New York City, his is a story of a man and a family vying for the American dream earnestly, but not without some bitterness.
Poet Brandon Shimoda has crafted a lyrical-collage portrait of a grandfather he barely knew, and a meditation on memory and forgetting. The book begins with Midori's first memory (washing the feet of his own grandfather's corpse) and ends with the author's last memory of him. In between are vignettes of camellia blossoms, picture brides, suicidal monks, ancestral fires, great-grandmothers, bathhouses, atomic bomb survivors, paintings, photographs, burial mounds, golden pavilions, and dementia. In a series of pilgrimages he makes, from his own home in the Arizona desert to the family's ancestral village in Japan, to a Montana museum of WWII detention where he discovers a previously unknown photographic portrait of his grandfather, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather--and therefore himself.
About the Author
Award-winning poet Brandon Shimoda has crafted a lyrical portrait of his paternal grandfather, Midori Shimoda, whose life--child migrant, talented photographer, suspected enemy alien and spy, desert wanderer, American citizen--mirrors the arc of Japanese America in the twentieth century. In a series of pilgrimages, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather, and unfolds, in the process, a moving elegy on memory and forgetting.