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Summary

First published in 1956, No-No Boy was virtually ignored by a public eager to put World War II and the Japanese internment behind them. It was not until the mid-1970s that a new generation of Japanese American writers and scholars recognized the novel's importance and popularized it as one of literature's most powerful testaments to the Asian American experience.

No-No Boy tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version of the real-life "no-no boys". Yamada answered "no" twice in a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to the United States. Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro earns two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle.

As Ozeki writes, Ichiro's "obsessive, tormented" voice subverts Japanese postwar "model-minority" stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man's "threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world".

©1976 Dorothy Okada (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Marie
  • 06-12-19

Nuanced novel about Nisei & Sansei

Having lived in California during the late 50s and 60s, I can attest to the racism and violence of many Caucasians, during this period. However, there were still good people, as well, which Mr. Okada writes about. He also conveys some of the inter-generational conflicts between 1st and 2nd generation Japanese, in this country. Expressed are some of the differences in outlook among Japanese-Americans. Some desperately want to prove that they were loyal Americans, which can be cringe-worthy. Others were defiant towards a country that imprisons them, and steals all of their property and worldly goods. The conflicts still exist today.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Nish
  • 27-10-20

Haunting in both the story and the author’s legacy

I have family who were in the American concentration camps. They talk about it but never of the hardship in any way other than facts. They might as well be reading the week’s weather or their grocery list. No-No Boy gives the thoughts and raw emotions of two generations of family who were broken and struggling to heal. Makes me wonder how much healing is possible in a community of silent perseverance. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this book and I hope many more do as well.

4 people found this helpful

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  • madeline crisafi
  • 13-11-19

Moving beyond words

John Okada’s novel needs to be read by Americans for its recounting of this shameful period in our country’s history and the poignancy of its message today. Thank you, Mr. Okada. I am grateful for your excellent work.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Surfer Girl
  • 28-09-19

Renown Author worth reading!

Enjoyed every minute! Too short and yet deeply moving. This is our American writer who ranks high right along Mark Twain.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sara K Slamp
  • 24-08-19

A Real Page-Turner

If John Olkada had not written this book, a huge piece of Japanese-American history would be lacking. I felt very enlightened by his novel. As a school teacher of English and History this enriches what little I know about the internment and those who experienced it first hand. It’s a rich story that gives us a window into those lovely Japanese who were so badly mistreated during WWII.

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  • G. Rosson
  • 28-09-20

thoroughly enjoyed

a glimpse at the life of post WWII Japanese Americans on the West Coast of USA. very enlightening. a great and unforgotten story and writer.

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  • Wendy Reilly
  • 05-07-19

Another Aspect


an interesting take on some of the untold history of Japanese Americans in the Northwest during WW2

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-10-18

Liberating and enriching!

A great story from a point of view that needed to be told. Courage comes in many forms indeed.

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  • susanrehman
  • 29-06-22

A True Must Read

Amazing book. Shocked it came out in 1956 and I had never even heard of it, though I was a lit major. Should be required reading in schools. Beautiful, spare, nuanced writing. Deeply insightful exploration if the Japanese American experience during and after WW2. For all of us, the book asks questions about belonging and the struggle for hope and redemption after deep trauma.