Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement

Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement
Paperback, 6 x 9, with 40 b&w photos, 240 pages.
ISBN: 9781597141420.

By Brian Komei Dempster

Many books have chronicled the experience of Japanese Americans in the early days of World War II, when over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were taken from their homes along the West Coast and imprisoned in concentration camps. When they were finally allowed to leave, a new challenge faced them—how do you resume a life so interrupted?

For most, going home meant learning to live in a hostile, racist environment. Some returned to find they had lost their homes and had little choice but to bide their time in transitional housing, including community halls, churches, housing projects, and tent camps. Their employment options were also limited; they often worked as domestics, dishwashers, and field laborers to help support their families. The effects of these experiences reverberate to this day, and Making Home from War reaches into the past, melds together what was once hidden, and tells the often neglected or hushed story of what happened after the war.

With honesty and an eye for detail, Making Home from War is the long-awaited sequel to the award-winning From Our Side of the Fence. Written by twelve Japanese American elders who gathered regularly at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Making Home from War is a collection of stories about their exodus from concentration camps into a world that in a few short years had drastically changed. In order to survive, they found the resilience they needed in the form of community, and gathered reserves of strength from family and friends. Through a spectrum of conflicting and rich emotions, Making Home from War demonstrates the depth of human resolve and faith during a time of devastating upheaval.


''These stories tiptoe gently into the heart, wipe clear the windows of our memories, and release the frozen tears of our outrage and triumphs. A deeply moving accounting of life after imprisonment, its lingering stigma, and the true meaning of freedom.''--Dr. Satsuki Ina, producer of Children of the Camps ''In my teacher professional development work nationally and internationally . . . I will [promote] Making Home from War. The readings . . . are very accessible to secondary school students and I highly recommend their use in social studies and language arts classrooms. The lesson plans are a unique feature to the anthologies and offer teachers tools to help set the context for the readings and to help students debrief them.'' Gary Mukai, Director of Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education
''I remember my release from Manzanar as scary and intense, but until now so little has been said about this aspect of the internment experience. This is an important book, its stories ground-breaking and memorable.''--Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, author of Farewell to Manzanar ''The Nisei memoirists emerge from the creative process voicing this collective yet richly variegated conclusion: 'while resettlement will never be a truly definitive entity, we are nonetheless finding our way back home in the discovery and telling of our stories.'' Arthur A. Hansen, Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton
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About the Author

Brian Komei Dempster

Brian Komei Dempster

Brian Komei Dempster is an award-winning poet, editor, and teacher. His volumes of poetry, Seize (Four Way Books, 2020) and Topaz (Four Way Books, 2013), have received several honors, including the Julie Suk Award, an NCPA Gold Award in Poetry, and a Human Relations Indie Book Silver Winner award. He is the editor of From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps (Kearny Street Workshop, 2001), which received a Nisei Voices Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement (Heyday, 2011). Dempster is a professor of rhetoric and language and Director of Administration for the Master’s in Asia Pacific Studies program at the University of San Francisco, where he was a recipient of the Dean’s Scholar Award and Distinguished Teaching Award. In addition, he teaches for the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference. He is a Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry.
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