Saturday, January 28, 2012

Five best books by the homesick

Susan J. Matt is Presidential Distinguished Professor of History at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. She is the author of Keeping Up with the Joneses: Envy in American Consumer Society, 1890-1930 and Homesickness: An American History.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books by the homesick.

One title on the list:
Desert Exile
by Yoshiko Uchida (1982)

In 1942, Yoshiko Uchida's family left their home in Berkeley, Calif., where she was attending college, and took up residence in horse stall No. 40 at the Tanforan Race Track in San Bruno, on the other side of San Francisco Bay. They had been sent to the track along with thousands of other Japanese-Americans by the U.S. government in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. When the Uchidas arrived at the racetrack, the young woman felt "degraded, humiliated, and overwhelmed with a longing for home," she wrote in this memoir. "And I saw the unutterable sadness on my mother's face." Yet the family tried so hard to make the rough surroundings comfortable that when they were again uprooted and sent to an internment camp in Utah, they found themselves missing Tanforan—at least it was familiar. In addition to recording her family's internment experience, Uchida recounts her parents' emigration to the U.S. a few decades earlier, their gradual assimilation during the 1920s and 1930s, and their postwar efforts to put down roots. "Desert Exile" is a portrait of a family for which a lasting sense of home proved elusive.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Susan J. Matt's Homesickness.

--Marshal Zeringue