Joy Nakayama Kogawa
Related VG Pages
We are sent to Siloam, the pool called 'sent. ' We are sent to the sending, that we may bring sight. We are the scholarly and the illiterate, the envied and the ugly, the fierce and the docile. We are those pioneers who cleared the bush and the forest with our hands, the gardeners tending and attending the soil with our tenderness, the fishermen who are flung from the sea to flounder in the dust of the prairies. We are the Issei and the Nisei and the Sansei, the Japanese Canadiens. We disappear into the future undemanding as dew.
Biography / Criticism
Joy Nakayama Kogawa was born in 1935 in Vancouver, British Columbia. She lived there until her family was transported to an internment camp in central British Columbia. In 1941 the Canadian Government began a movement of Japanese people to internment camps. The Canadian government feared subversive acts from Japanese-Canadians and immigrants. The government also confiscated possessions and property from the Japanese-Canadians. Later they were sent to a camp in Coaldale in South Alberta. At the camps she and her family lived a life of field labor until the late 1940's when Joy began her studies at several universities.
Kogawa, a Canadian poet, novelist, and children's writer, pursued studies in education at the University of Alberta. She then taught elementary education. After one year of teaching, she went back to school to study music at the University of Toronto. Her education did not end there. She subsequently studied at The Women's Training College and the University of Saskatchewan.
In 1957 she moved permanently to Toronto where she married her husband and where they had two children. It was in 1959 that Kogawa began writing. By 1964 she had her first short story published. The more she wrote, the less concerned she was with the technical aspect of writing. She began writing more poetry than short stories. In 1968 Kogawa divorced her husband.
In 1974 she published A Choice of Dreams, and in 1978 she published Jericho Road. In 1981 Kogawa published an award winning book entitled Obasan. Obasan focuses on Japanese Canadians and the many injustices they suffered during and after World War II. Obasan won Books in Canada's First Nobel Award and the Canadian Authors Association's Book of the Year Award. Eleven years later, Kogawa would publsish Itsuka, a sequel to Obasan. In 1982 she began her involvement with Sadan-Kai, a Japanese Canadian activist who has sought redress from the Canadian Government. Kogawa currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Works by the Author
- Song of Lilith (2001) Review in VG Critique
- The Rain Ascends (1995)
- Itsuka (1992)
- Naomi's no Michi (Young adult fiction) (1988)
- Naomi's Road (1986)
- Woman in the Woods (1985)
- Translation of Obasan (1983)
- Six Poems (1978)
- Jericho Road (1977)
- A Choice of Dreams (1974)
- The Splintered Moon (1968)
Works about the Author
- Cheung, King-kok. Hisaye Yamamoto, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joy Kogawa. Series: Reading Women Writing. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.
- Cheung, King-Kok. "Attentive Silence in Joy Kogawa's Obasan. " Listening to Silences: New Essays in Feminist Criticism. Eds. Elaine Hedges and Shelley Fisher Fishkin. New York: Oxford University Press. 1994. 113-29.
- Chua Cheng Lok. "Witnessing the Japanese Canadian Experience in World War II: Processual Structure, Symbolism, and Irony in Joy Kogawa's Obasan. " Reading the Literatures of Asian America. Eds. Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Amy Ling. Foreward by Elaine H. Kim. Series. Asian American History and Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992. 97-111.
- Fairbanks, Carol. "Joy Kogawa's Obasan: a study in political efficacy. " Journal of American and Canadian Studies 5 (Spring 1990): 73-92.
- Fujita, Gayle K. "To attend the sound of stone: The Sensibility of Silence in Obasan. " MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 12.3 (Fall 1985) 33-42.
- Goellnicht, Donald C. "Father Land/ or Mother Tongue: The Divided Female Subject in Kogawa's Obasan and Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. " Redefining Autobiography in Twentieth Century Women's Fiction: An Essay Collection. Ed. Janice Morgan, Colette T. Hall, Carol L. Snyder. Foreward by Molly Hite. New York: Garland, 1991. 119-34.
- Gottlieb, Erika. "The Riddle of Concentric Worlds in Obasan. " Canadian Literature 109 (Summer 1986): 34-53.
- Harris, Mason. "Broken Generations in Obasan: Inner Conflict and the Destruction of Community. " Canadian Literature 127 (Winter 1990): 41-57.
- Lim, Shirley Geok-lin. "Asian American Daughters Rewriting Asian Maternal Texts. " Asian Americans: Comparative and Global Perspectives. Ed. Shirley Hune, Hyung-chan Kim, Stephen S. Fugita and Amy Ling. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1991. 239-248.
- Lim, Shirley Geok-lin. "Japanese American Women's Life Stories: Maternality in Monica Stone's Nisei Daughter and Joy Kogawa's Obasan. " Feminist Studies 16.2 (Summer 1990): 288-312.
- Magnusson, A. Lynne. "Language and Longing in Joy Kogawa's Obasan. " Canadian Literature116 (Spring 1988) 58-66.
- Potter, Robin. "Moral -- in whose sense? Kobawa's Obasan and Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror. " Studies in Canadien Literature 15.1 (1990): 117-139.
- Rose, Marilyn R. "Hawthorne's 'Custom House,' Said's Orientalism and Kogawa's Obasan: an intertextual Reading of an Historical Fiction. " Dalhousie Review 67.2-3. (Summer/Fall 1987): 286-296.
- Koo Eunsook. "The Politics of Race and Gender: Mothers and Daughters in the Novels of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingtson, Joy Kogawa. " DAI 55.2 (1994): 280A. State University of New York. Stony Brook.
This site, created by Dr. Karin Beeler of the University of Northern British Columbia, includes a photo of Kogawa, a brief biography, a list of texts written by Kogawa and a list of writings about Kogawa.
This site, from Canadian Materials, has a book review by Fran Newman praising Joy Kogawa's childrens book, Naomi's Road.
Report a dead link or suggest a new one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page was researched and submitted by: Laura Behnke, Alicia Davis, Mandy Kuzma, and Mary Luebbers on 11/6/98.