Wednesday, February 21, 2007

House of the Red Fish

Oregon's own Graham Salisbury has followed up his 1994 Pearl Harbor novel, Under the Blood-Red Sun, with a novel that takes place a year-and-a-half later. Tomi is now 16 years old, and has been the "man" of his family since the bombings, since his father and grandfather have both been interned. The first chapter nicely recaps the previous novel and now Tomi -- struggling with the overt discrimination from most of the island's white residents -- is determined to refloat his father's sampan fishing boat. He wants to have it ready for him to use again when the war is over. Salisbury tells his story so efficiently and compassionately; he tells a story of loss and anger, but he never loses sight of Tomi's family and friends and the everyday way they are leading their lives during a time of war. I'm nearly finished with the audio and am completely wrapped up in Tomi's mission.

In this story, Salisbury also gives a nod to Eddy Okubo -- hero of the harrowing 2005 story Eyes of the Emperor.

The very reliable Jeff Woodman is narrating this story -- which, first of all, begs the culturally appropriate question again: Why not an Asian narrator? Woodman is pretty much always excellent in the many, many books I've heard him narrate (he's particularly good at English accents: run and find The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) -- but here he seems uncomfortable with both the Japanese accents and with those of Tomi's Portuguese-Hawaiian friends. They seem "learned" and stiff, not natural.

So, I'm still on the fence audiobook-wise.

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