Looking After Minidoka: An American Memoir
by Neil Nakadate
Indiana University Press
With Looking for Minidoka, Neil Nakadate graciously invites us into his maternal Marumoto and paternal Nakadate family story, from their compelling reasons for separate 19th-century immigrations from Japan to Portland, Ore., and onward throughout two World Wars to the fourth generation on U.S. soil.
"This is a Japanese story, a story of origins and imagination, and ambition, and hope," writes Nakadate. "And insiders and outsiders, trauma and silent tears. It is a story of what it can mean in America to be from somewhere else."
Tears and laughter, defeat and hope are equally the reader's as she moves through the decades in a place that wants the labor but hesitates to embrace the one who labors.
U.S. treatment of Japanese Americans is not an example of sterling humanity. Nakadate rises above rant to relate the deep hurts that spiral into Minidoka, the South Dakota internment camp where second and third generations of Americans of Japanese heritage were held from 1941 to 1945.
Poetic yet sharply honest, the family story unfolds within the larger context of the national saga. You'll wince but read it anyway. Your soul will be better for it.