Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories
206 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Release Date:01 Apr 2001
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Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories

By Hisaye Yamamoto; Introduction by King-Kok Cheung
Rutgers University Press
Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories brings together nineteen stories that span Hisaye Yamamoto's forty-year career. It was her first book to be published in the United States. Yamamoto's themes include the cultural conflicts between the first generation, the Issei and their children, the Nisei; coping with prejudice; and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.
Hisaye Yamamoto was born in 1921 in Redondo Beach, California. Her parents were immigrants from Japaan. She attended Compton Junior College, where she majored in French, Spanish, German, and Latin. She also attended Japanese school for twelve years. From 1942 to 1945, she and her family were interned in the concentration camp at Poston, Arizona. In 1944 she and her two brothers were "relocated" to Massachusetts, but another brother's death in combat in Italy brought them back to camp. In 1845 she moved with her family to Los Angeles.
She has been waiting for publication since the age of fourteen, including for the concentration camp newspaper, The Poston Chronicle. After the war she worked for three years in the Los Angeles Tribune, a Black weekly. In 1948 she began to publish her fiction and non-fiction in journals including Partisan Review, Kenyon Review, Harper's Baazar, Carleton Miscellany, Arizona Quarterly, and Furioso. One of her stories, "Yoneko's Earthquake," was selected in inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of 1952. Three other stories: "Seventeen Syllables," "The Brown House," and "Epithalamium," were also chosen for the annual listings of "Distinctive Short Stories," included in the Best American Short Stories volumes. Her poetry and prose have been published in numerous Japanese American, Japanese Canadian, and Japanese publications including Rafu Shimpo, Kashu Mainichi, Pacific Citizen, New Canadian, Rikka, Ashai Shimbun, Pan, and Hokubei Mainichi.  Her work has also been widely anthologized in textbooks and in collections for general audiences.
In 1950 she received one of the first John Hay Whitney Foundation Opportunity Fellowships. From 1953 to 1955 she participated in the work of Catholic Workers in New York and also wrote for The Catholic Worker. She is married to Anthony DeSoto and has five children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She was the recipient of the 1986 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Before Columbus Foundation. She lives in Southern California. 
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