No-No Boy Author:John Okada This book is a vivid portrayal of one young man's suffering due to his decision not to swear loyalty to a country that had forsaken his rights as a citizen, and the consequences that result from this decision. Okada deals with a very touchy subject in this novel, for both the white and Japanese-American communities. Ichiro's self-inflict... more »ed punishment helps the reader to realize just how awful this experience was for the real No-no boys.« less
At the end of WWII, the Japanese-Americans interned during the war were released to return to their former homes and pick up their shattered lives. Veterans returned to their families. And those who refused to be drafted into the armed forces while their families were incarcerated for the "crime" of having Japanese ancestry were also released from the prisons they'd occupied during the war years. These "no-no boys" faced ongoing internal--as well as familial and community--conflicts. This is the first Asian American novel published in the U.S., and the first to examine the tensions and pressures within the Issei and Nisei during the war and afterwards. Its author died shortly after its publication.
Ichiro is out from two years in internment camp, then two years prison for not enlisting in the war. It's a sad story. John Okada's description of San Francisco during the time is realistic. An early Asian American classic.