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Karen Tei Yamashita
May 6, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm PDTFree
celebrating the release of her new short fiction collection
Sansei and Sensibility
published by Coffee House Press
Generations of Japanese Americans merge with Jane Austen’s characters in these lively stories, pairing uniquely American histories with reimagined classics.
In these buoyant and inventive stories, Japanese Americans shift the boundaries of Jane Austen’s classic tales, questioning what inheritance—familial, cultural, artistic—really means. In ’60s California and beyond, a woman examines the contents of her dead aunt’s freezer, Mr. Darcy is captain of the football team, a dental hygienist collects a community’s gossip while cleaning his neighbors’ teeth, and station wagons, not horse-drawn carriages, are the transit of the day. These narratives that traverse class, race, and gender leap into our modern world with Yamashita’s signature wit and humor.
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of seven books, including I Hotel, finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Letters to Memory, all published by Coffee House Press. Recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a U.S. Artists’ Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is professor emerita of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Praise for Sansei and Sensibility
“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
“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
Praise for the work of Karen Tei Yamashita
2010 National Book Award Finalist
2011 American Book Award Winner
“This powerful, deeply felt, and impeccably researched fiction is irresistibly evocative and overwhelming in every sense.” —Publishers Weekly
“The extraordinary testimony of a revolutionary past. . . . I Hotel is crammed with detail, with real-life pamphlets, speeches, quotes, and news reports humming and crackling in the background. The whole thing makes for an astonishing, and carefully structured, collage of both local and global movement.” —The Nation
“Immensely entertaining.” —Newsday
“Shaped and voiced with literary flair, this is clearly a book Yamashita felt compelled to write, and her sense of purpose makes this historical excavation feel deeply personal.” —Kirkus
“Yamashita incorporates satire and the surreal in prose that is playful yet knowing, fierce yet mournful.”—San Francisco Chronicle