By Frances Itani
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780802120229, 320pp.)
Publication Date: August 2012
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By the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize-winning author of Deafening comes a new historical novel that traces the lives of one Japanese-Canadian family during and after their internment in the 1940s.
In 1942 the government removed Bin Okuma's family from their home on British Columbia’s west coast and forced them into internment camps. They were allowed to take only the possessions they could carry, and as a young boy Bin was forced to watch as neighbors raided their family home before the transport boats even undocked. One hundred miles from the Protected Zone,” they formed makeshift communities without direct access to electricity, plumbing or foodfor five years.
Fifty years later, after his wife’s sudden death, Bin travels across the country to find the biological father who has been lost to him. Both running from grief and driving straight toward it, Bin must ask himself whether he truly wants to find First Father, the man who made a fateful decision that almost destroyed his family all those years ago. With his wife’s persuasive voice in his head and the echo of their love in his heart, Bin embarks on an unforgettable journey into his past that will throw light on a dark time in history.
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year
"Remarkable . . . Understated . . . Requiem delicately probes the complex adjustments we make to live with our sorrows. . . . In this perfectly modulated novel, we see the emotional cost of suppression."The Washington Post
"Itani writes with a delicate grasp of both the obvious and the unspoken, using ordinary words charged with extraordinary meaning to produce a serious book that nevertheless invites you to keep reading past midnight."BookPage
"In Requiem, Frances Itani is at the height of her powers. . . . The Japanese-Canadian story has never been told with such passion, insight and telling detail. . . . Itani has told this story in amazing, cinematic detail. . . . [Requiem] is surely Itani’s greatest novel, although calling Requiem a novel does not do it justice. Requiem is a great work of literature from a determined author at the peak of her powers. It is also a sobering history lesson for all those Canadians who belittle other countries for their racism but are too smug and too blind to examine their own nation’s transgressions."The Ottawa Citzen
"With Requiem, Itani has written an important and moving novel . . . told with painful and quiet eloquence."Washington Independent Book Review
Itani is an accomplished stylist; her prose is lyrical yet clear, her pace unhurried. . . . Itani’s empathy and understanding of human nature enliven her characters. . . . In this finely written, reflective novel, Bin’s physical journey and mindful recollections lead him to a place where he can choose to either hold onto his anger or make peace with his ghosts.”Kim Moritsugu, The Globe and Mail
"An undeniably respectful and moving homage to a shameful factual episode."Kirkus Reviews
"Beautifully rendered . . . Both tribute and a wail of grief . . . Lyrical and undulating, Requiem rages too."Telegraph-Journal
"An evocative and cinematic tale . . . Poignantly, the story's determined brush strokes speak of quiet perservance, underscoring the sense of loss, of talent suspended. . . . With a precise, elegant style Itani avoids the maudlin, and delivers a taut novel."Jane Christmas, Maclean's
"A beautiful, slow, meandering read that explores the past of Japanese Canadians in a particularly resonant way."Sally Ito, The Globe and Mail (Favorite Book of the Year)