How Old Was Hisaye Yamamoto When She Died?

The short story collection Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories by American author Hisaye Yamamoto came out in 1988. Yamamoto was born in Redondo Beach, California, to parents who were of the Issei race.

The California Alien Land Law forced her parents to move around a lot, so her generation, the Nisei, was often always on the move. Her work deals with things like the experience of Japanese immigrants in the United States, the difference between first- and second-generation immigrants, and the hard role of women in society.

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How Old Was Hisaye Yamamoto When She Died?

Hisaye Yamamoto, one of the first Asian American writers to achieve literary acclaim after WWII with highly polished short stories that showed a world defined by culture and terrible strokes of history, died on January 30, 2011, at her Los Angeles home. Last year, she suffered a stroke. She was 89 years old at the time.

Ms. Yamamoto, who has been compared to short-story masters such as Katherine Mansfield, Flannery O’Connor, and Grace Paley, focused her imagination on the issei and nisei, the first- and second-generation Japanese Americans who were targets of the public outpouring of rage following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

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How Did Hisaye Yamamoto Start Her career?

This collection, which was initially published in 1988, contains stories written over a forty-year period following the end of World War II. Some of Yamamoto’s most-anthologized works are included in the collection, including “Yoneko’s Earthquake,” “The Legend of Miss Sasagawara,” “The Brown House,” and “Seventeen Syllables,” which many believe to be Yamamoto’s ultimate masterpiece.

How Old Was Hisaye Yamamoto When She Died?

The parallel stories of a young Nisei girl and her Issei mother are told in this story: the daughter’s inability to understand her mother’s interest in haiku, the daughter’s budding romance with a young Mexican boy, the mother’s victory in a haiku contest, and the father’s resentment of her mother’s artistic success.

Yamamoto’s works are sometimes compared to the poetry form, haiku, characterized as “layered in metaphor, imagery, and irony, yet never wordy or given to digression. Her “subtle realizations of gender and sexual relationships” have also been lauded.

Her work is sensitive, thorough, emotional, and delicate, yet frank and frugal, paying honor to her Japanese roots while maintaining contemporary appeal. Her short stories were praised and compared favorably to those of Katherine Mansfield, Flannery O’Connor, and Grace Paley.

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Life in World War II

The Japanese Navy destroyed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Within four months after the bombing, the United States Government interned over 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of whom were born on American soil.

This forcible migration movement contributed to a certain physical, social, and psychological uprooting that Yamamoto would constantly explore in her art by abandoning homes, farms, and enterprises. Outside of their families, Japanese women living in the United States typically had no female confidants.

Despite the constant challenges they experienced, literature and poetry flourished in the new land. In some ways, art became the only source of freedom in the lives of both Issei and Nisei women as a response to the different forms of captivity and relocation they experienced, whether it was detention, internment, poverty, gender, or even marriage.

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