Behind the Covers: “No-No Boy”

The University of Washington press recently republished John Okada’s classic novel No-No Boy. In the story, the protagonist, Ichiro Yamada is interned with his family during World War II. When he filled out “a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty” he answered no to each of these questions. After answering no, no Yamada was imprisoned for two years. The story follows Yamada after the war as he tries to negotiate his life as a no-no boy. Originally published 1956, the University of Washington is re-introducing this book to American readers. Take a look the post from the University of Washington Press blog to understand why they have re-published this classic work.

University of Washington Press Blog

NoNo-OkadaJohn Okada‘s classic novel, No-No Boy, tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version of a real-life “no-no boy.” During World War II, Yamada answered “no” twice in a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to the United States. Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro earned two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle. As Ruth Ozeki writes in her introduction to the new edition of the book, Ichiro’s “obsessive, tormented” voice subverts Japanese postwar “model-minority” stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man’s “threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world.”

First published in 1956, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and…

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