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Holy Prayers in a Horse's Ear

A Japanese American Memoir

Kathleen Tamagawa, Edited by Greg Robinson and Elena Tajima Creef

Publication Year: 2008

Originally published in 1932, Kathleen Tamagawa’s pioneering Asian American memoir is a sensitive and thoughtful look at the personal and social complexities of growing up racially mixed during the early twentieth century. Born in 1893 to an Irish American mother and a Japanese father and raised in Chicago and Japan, Tamagawa reflects on the difficulty she experienced fitting into either parent’s native culture.

            She describes how, in America, her every personal quirk and quality was seen as quintessentially Japanese and how she was met unpredictably with admiration or fear—perceived as a “Japanese doll” or “the yellow menace.” When her family later moved to Japan, she was viewed there as a “Yankee,” and remained an outsider in that country as well. As an adult she came back to the United States as an American diplomat’s wife, but had trouble feeling at home in any place.

            This edition, which also includes Tamagawa’s recently rediscovered short story, “A Fit in Japan,” and a critical introduction, will challenge readers to reconsider how complex ethnic identities are negotiated and how feelings of alienation limit human identification in any society. 


Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

The editors wish to offer special thanks to a few individuals who helped make this new edition possible. The late Frank Eldridge Jr., executor of Kathleen Tamagawa Eldridge’s estate, gave the project his blessing and agreed to be interviewed about his mother’s life and work. Karin...


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xxxiv

Kathleen Tamagawa’s memoir Holy Prayers in a Horse’s Ear, originally published in 1932, holds a special place in Asian American history. While much less known than the now-celebrated works of the Canadian Eurasian sisters Edith and Winifred Eaton, to which it is inevitably...

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Holy Prayers in a Horse’s Ear

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pp. 1-162

Trying to write about one’s life is like grabbing at a whirling circle. There doesn’t seem to be any beginning and of course as I’m still “going strong,” there is no proper end. With frantic gesture, I grab at the circle and whichever way I turn I get no-where; from nothingness...

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A Fit in Japan

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pp. 163-171

Toku stood in the doorway of the European drawing room. It was the tea hour in the foreign community of Yokohama, and three Americans, two young women and a man, were grouped before a blazing fire. Christmas decorations filled the room with the breath of dying...

Explanatory Notes

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pp. 173-182

About the Editors

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p. 183

E-ISBN-13: 9780813544779
E-ISBN-10: 0813544777
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813542973

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 276172377
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Holy Prayers in a Horse's Ear