When I wrote my novel, How To Be An American Housewife (Putnam Books), I wasn’t thinking of the experience of other hapas, just my own. The story deals with a Japanese mother who married an American after World War II, and her American daughter. It’s a mother-daughter story, told from the perspectives of both. Taking place in San Diego and in Japan, the book is about journeys, both physical and spiritual.
Though the plot is fiction, much of the book’s core is based on my experience with my own Japanese mother, and our admittedly strained relationship. I never knew any other person with a Japanese mother and an American father when I was growing up in San Diego. I felt isolated in my experiences and upbringing.
Since the book came out in August 2010, I’ve come to realize that I am not unique. I’ve gotten a lot of mail telling me that readers have had similar experiences with their Japanese mothers in America, with the ambivalence of belonging to neither American nor Japanese culture entirely, and with the importance of reconnecting with one’s roots. I’m proud and pleased that my personal narrative has lent a voice to the hapa culture. I wrote the book I wished I’d had as a teenager, about the relationship I would have loved to have had with my own mother, who passed away when I was 20.
Author of HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE
August 2010 Putnam Books