STRAWBERRY ROAD by Yoshimi Ishikawa


A Japanese Immigrant Discovers America
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 A best-seller in Japan, and soon to be a movie, Japanese writer Ishikawa's book about his mid-60's California sojourn is full of those tiresome generalities that hinder rather than help international understanding. Fresh out of high school, Ishikawa came to America to live with his oldest brother, Anchan, a farmer. He planned to attend a local high school to improve his English and then proceed to college. While he did this, he would work on the farm with his brother and earn his keep. And so he does, but the America he has read about and the America his brother has described are very different from reality. Like all immigrants, he is soon aware of the inevitable gap between his native past, with all its rooted associations and history, and his more nebulous immigrant status. As he picks strawberries with migrant Mexican workers, meets the local Japanese, attends school, has an affair with an older Japanese woman who had married an American, and travels, he comments confidently on what he perceives to be the differences between the two countries. Unlike in Japan, he finds American conversations are one-sided; Americans tackle problems head-on; and American constantly fight for justice. Less persuasive are his analyses: people without credit cards are rejected by society; the country is idealistic because immigrant men came here first, then summoned their women; and all American behavior is shaped by growing up in a ``jostling immigrant society where everyone is a talker.'' Ishikawa's vignettes of Japanese immigrant life are valuable, as are his opinions about Japan, but sweeping and simplistic statements about American life and history seriously undermine his book.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1991
ISBN: 4-7700-1551-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991