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Sansei and Sensibility Summary and Reviews

Sansei and Sensibility

by Karen Tei Yamashita

Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita X
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
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  • Published in USA  May 2020
    224 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

In these buoyant and inventive stories, Karen Tei Yamashita transfers classic tales across boundaries and questions what an inheritance—familial, cultural, emotional, artistic—really means.

In a California of the sixties and seventies, characters examine the contents of deceased relatives' freezers, tape-record high school locker-room chatter, or collect a community's gossip while cleaning the teeth of its inhabitants. Mr. Darcy is the captain of the football team, Mansfield Park materializes in a suburb of L.A., bake sales replace ballroom dances, and station wagons, not horse-drawn carriages, are the preferred mode of transit.

The stories of traversing class, race, and gender leap into our modern world with wit and humor.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The range of characters, sparkling humor, connective themes, and creative ambition all showcase Yamashita's impressive powers." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An elegantly written, wryly affectionate mashup of Jane Austen and the Japanese immigrant experience...Yamashita's reimagining of Austen is sympathetic and funny—and as on target as the movie Clueless." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Karen Tei Yamashita is one of America's great unsung geniuses...Here she's mapped a series of stories onto the plots of Jane Austen novels, telling the tales of Japanese immigrants to the United States through the lens of their shared themes: inheritance, marriage, familial heritage. Yamashita is writing some of her finest stories yet." - Literary Hub

"A dynamic collection...Yamashita reconsiders canonical works, questions cultural inheritance, and experiments with genre and form." - The Millions

"The range of characters, sparkling humor, connective themes, and creative ambition all showcase Yamashita's impressive powers." - Buzzfeed

"Dazzling. An extraordinarily inventive collection of short stories that takes us from Japan to Brazil to the fractured heart of suburban postwar Japanese America. Whether she is riffing on Jane Austen, channeling Jorge Luis Borges, or meditating on Marie Kondo, Yamashita is a brilliant and often subversive storyteller in superb command of her craft." - Julie Otsuka

"Through vignettes, recipes, and correspondence, master writer Karen Tei Yamashita takes us through the rabbit hole of Japanese America—in particular, her hometown of Gardena, California, where an ethnic community culturally transformed a middle-class bedroom town. Part Ozu meditation of everyday life, part modern folk tale with colorful characters like a truth-telling dental hygienist, Sansei and Sensibility offers a unique and necessary perspective of what it means to be the aging grandchild of Asian immigrants, wondering what you will leave behind for the next generation. As in all of her books, Yamashita deconstructs form and genre to create a work that both delights and challenges" - Naomi Hirahara, Edgar Award-winning author of Snakeskin Shamisen and Hiroshima Boy

"This capacious collection is witty, sharp—funny at times, angry at times—always amazing, and never, never dull. I think Jane Austen would be surprised, but delighted. I surely am." - Karen Joy Fowler

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Author Information

Karen Tei Yamashita

Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of seven books, including I Hotel,finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Letters to Memory. Recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is Professor Emerita of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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