Requiem: Book summary and reviews of Requiem by Frances Itani

Requiem

by Frances Itani

Requiem by Frances Itani
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2012
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

By the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize-winning author of Deafening comes a new historical novel that traces the lives of one Japanese-Canadian family during and after their internment in the 1940s.

In 1942 the government removed Bin Okuma's family from their home on British Columbia’s west coast and forced them into internment camps. They were allowed to take only the possessions they could carry, and as a young boy Bin was forced to watch as neighbors raided their family home before the transport boats even undocked. One hundred miles from the "Protected Zone," they formed makeshift communities without direct access to electricity, plumbing or food - for five years.

Fifty years later, after his wife’s sudden death, Bin travels across the country to find the biological father who has been lost to him. Both running from grief and driving straight toward it, Bin must ask himself whether he truly wants to find First Father, the man who made a fateful decision that almost destroyed his family all those years ago. With his wife’s persuasive voice in his head and the echo of their love in his heart, Bin embarks on an unforgettable journey into his past that will throw light on a dark time in history.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Itani's (Remembering the Bones) gorgeous language draws readers into this appalling chapter in North American history, only scratching the surface of what it must have been like for those in the camps, and nourishes them with tales of powerful love." - Library Journal

"[Requiem] is surely Itani's greatest novel, although calling Requiem a novel does not do it justice. Requiem is a great work of literature from a determined author at the peak of her powers. It is also a sobering history lesson for all those Canadians who belittle other countries for their racism but are too smug and too blind to examine their own nation’s transgressions." - The Ottawa Citizen

“Itani is an accomplished stylist; her prose is lyrical yet clear, her pace unhurried. ... Itani's empathy and understanding of human nature enliven her characters..... In this finely written, reflective novel, Bin’s physical journey and mindful recollections lead him to a place where he can choose to either hold onto his anger or make peace with his ghosts." - The Globe and Mail

"Beautifully rendered ... Both tribute and a wail of grief ... Lyrical and undulating, Requiem rages too." - Telegraph-Journal

"An evocative and cinematic tale ... Poignantly, the story's determined brush strokes speak of quiet perservance, underscoring the sense of loss, of talent suspended. ... With a precise, elegant style Itani avoids the maudlin, and delivers a taut novel." - Maclean's

"A beautiful, slow, meandering read that explores the past of Japanese Canadians in a particularly resonant way." - The Globe and Mail

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Frances Itani is the author of Deafening, winner of a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Drummer General’s Award, and short-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and Remembering the Bones, short-listed for a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

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