This was the pick by Vivian for the next book that we would read together. As you may recall in January I read Nineteen Eight-Four with Vivian and we both really enjoyed it. Back in May we chose Obasan but it took several months for us both to get copies so there we were at the end of July starting our books. In hindsight it may not have been the best time for us to choose to do a buddy read as we were both going away and I have yet to hear her thoughts on the novel, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to our upcoming discussion.
Obasan is mostly a story about the Japanese internment in Canada post Perl Harbour during the Second World War. As this is not something, at least on the East Coast, that is talked about a lot I found it to be both an interesting and enlightening read. Obasan is also a story about family and how important those bonds are in times of strife.
For those of you who are unaware of my countries great shame, the Japanese interment was when the Canadian government, for the safety of it’s citizens, rounded up its citizens of Japanese decent, for the most part second and third generation Canadians, especially those who were living in Vancouver and moved them into work camps in the interior of British Columbia. The government also sold all their property and belongings and barred these citizens from moving back into Vancover until around ’49. You may note my use of the word citizen. I have chosen it, like to book, to highlight the true atrocity of this event.
The novel follows an Albertan teacher named Naomi through the death of her Uncle and discovering of this dark path. She and her family were expelled from Vancouver when she was a child and the story of her upbringing is told in combination between memories, stories told to her by other relatives, and various documents that one of her Aunt’s sends her to try and help her learn this past that her Aunt believes to be of vital importance.
It is an incredibly sad and moving novel. I rated it a 5 out of 5. I think that it’s an important novel for every Canadian to read, but would also recommend anyone who is looking for a strong narrative and good writing.