In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

125 M anzanar. In 1989, my grandma and I make a special stop at the mall, waiting in line at Waldenbooks just for Manzanar. We bring it home and look at it together. Well, not really together. Grandma and I were each other’s weekend for many years, apart from the one weekend a month that my siblings and I went off to our dad’s. Grandma was alone and needed help with chores, my mom needed a break from being a single mom with three kids, and I needed to be around someone steady. Gardening , cooking, cleaning the house, I became part of her routine. Usually Grandma would take a new book straight to her bedroom and put it on her nightstand, waiting until bedtime to flip through it: something to look forward to once the day’s duties were done. Sometimes she enjoyed a book so much that she’d keep reading until she fell asleep with the book on her face. If I spent the night, we would both read in her bed until I’d heard her snoring; my job would be to pick up the book without disturbing her, mark the page with a bookmark, cover her with the blanket, shut out the light. But the day we bring home Manzanar, she takes the book straight to the kitchen table, leaving it in the bookstore bag. She makes herself a pot of genmai cha, her favorite tea. She clears off the table of its everyday mess of stacked bills, fruit that needs eating, used grocery bags. She does not ask me if I want any tea. My cue to leave her alone. Ansel Adams took all the photos in Manzanar, creating a photographic account of Japanese-American internment. He had published some of the photos before, in 1944, in a book called Born Free and Equal. That book didn’t go over so well. It was banned. Copies were burned in the streets. His photos portrayed the internees as humans and not just “Japs.” Americans weren’t ready for that in 1944. But by 1989, Americans are driving Hondas and Toyotas with SARAH FANG THE MISSING PICTURES Winner of the 2008–09 AWP Intro Journals Project, selected by Barbara Hurd colorado review 126 Sony sound systems; sushi has come to places like Nebraska and Oklahoma; two Karate Kids have come out and everyone loves that Mr. Miyagi. Wax on, wax off. Pop culture has paved the way for deeper truths. This is the year after Reagan’s national apology for the internment, after the news of the reparations. The government is sorry they had stuck all the Japanese people in prison, stripped them of their constitutional rights, led many to lose all of their possessions. The government would even offer token compensation for the losses suffered. Our family does not discuss the money, but we all think about it. Grandma’s age means that she would be among the first to receive compensation ; the fact that my uncle K—— was born there means he would be among the youngest and the last. She is seventyfive years old. Uncle K—— is forty-six. I am fourteen. She was already pregnant with him when they got to Manzanar. That much of the story, I knew. I move to the living room and sit on the worn, blue 1960s sofa, still watching her in the kitchen from the corners of my eyes, pretending to occupy myself with something from the pile of old-lady magazines in front of me. National Geographic. Family Circle. Woman’s Day. Her dog, Smokey, keeps me company on the couch, his head resting on my feet. I half-heartedly read an article that teaches me the best way to clean the bathroom grout (instead of throwing away that old toothbrush, use it on the grout!). I am unused to the expression on Grandma’s face. A tense one, a somber one. Blank face, otherwise. Nowadays , I think of this face as the one that some people mean when they call the Japanese “stoic.” Grandma sits at the kitchen table with Manzanar. She sips her tea and spreads the book out flat so she...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 125-145
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.