A novel by Karen Tei Yamashita
May 5, 2020 • 6 x 9 • 232 pages • 978-1-56689-578-1
Generations of Japanese Americans merge with Jane Austen’s characters in these lively stories, pairing uniquely American histories with reimagined classics.
In these buoyant and inventive stories, Karen Tei Yamashita transfers classic tales across boundaries and questions what an inheritance—familial, cultural, emotional, artistic—really means. In a California of the sixties and seventies, characters examine the contents of deceased relatives' freezers, tape-record high school locker-room chatter, or collect a community's gossip while cleaning the teeth of its inhabitants. Mr. Darcy is the captain of the football team, Mansfield Park materializes in a suburb of L.A., bake sales replace ballroom dances, and station wagons, not horse-drawn carriages, are the preferred mode of transit. The stories of traversing class, race, and gender leap into our modern world with wit and humor.
About the Author
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of seven books, including I Hotel, finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Letters to Memory, all published by Coffee House Press. Recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a U.S. Artists’ Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is professor emerita of literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Praise for Sansei and Sensibility
Literary Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2020
“An elegantly written, wryly affectionate mashup of Jane Austen and the Japanese immigrant experience. . . . Yamashita’s reimagining of Austen is sympathetic and funny—and as on target as the movie Clueless.” —Kirkus, starred review
“Karen Tei Yamashita contends with the Western canon in this astute, pitch-perfect, and wryly funny short story collection. . . . A genuine pleasure to read.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Karen Tei Yamashita is one of America’s great unsung geniuses . . . Here she’s mapped a series of stories onto the plots of Jane Austen novels, telling the tales of Japanese immigrants to the United States through the lens of their shared themes: inheritance, marriage, familial heritage. Yamashita is writing some of her finest stories yet.” —Literary Hub
“The range of characters, sparkling humor, connective themes, and creative ambition all showcase Yamashita’s impressive powers.” —Buzzfeed
“A dynamic collection. . . . Yamashita reconsiders canonical works, questions cultural inheritance, and experiments with genre and form.” —The Millions
“Dazzling. An extraordinarily inventive collection of short stories that takes us from Japan to Brazil to the fractured heart of suburban postwar Japanese America. Whether she is riffing on Jane Austen, channeling Jorge Luis Borges, or meditating on Marie Kondo, Yamashita is a brilliant and often subversive storyteller in superb command of her craft.” —Julie Otsuka
“Through vignettes, recipes, and correspondence, master writer Karen Tei Yamashita takes us through the rabbit hole of Japanese America—in particular, her hometown of Gardena, California, where an ethnic community culturally transformed a middle-class bedroom town. Part Ozu meditation of everyday life, part modern folk tale with colorful characters like a truth-telling dental hygienist, Sansei and Sensibility offers a unique and necessary perspective of what it means to be the aging grandchild of Asian immigrants, wondering what you will leave behind for the next generation. As in all of her books, Yamashita deconstructs form and genre to create a work that both delights and challenges.” —Naomi Hirahara
“This capacious collection is witty, sharp—funny at times, angry at times—always amazing, and never, never dull. I think Jane Austen would be surprised, but delighted. I surely am.” —Karen Joy Fowler
Praise for Karen Tei Yamashita
2010 National Book Award Finalist
2011 American Book Award Winner
“This powerful, deeply felt, and impeccably researched fiction is irresistibly evocative and overwhelming in every sense.” —Publishers Weekly
“The extraordinary testimony of a revolutionary past. . . . I Hotel is crammed with detail, with real-life pamphlets, speeches, quotes, and news reports humming and crackling in the background. The whole thing makes for an astonishing, and carefully structured, collage of both local and global movement.” —The Nation
“Immensely entertaining.” —Newsday
“Shaped and voiced with literary flair, this is clearly a book Yamashita felt compelled to write, and her sense of purpose makes this historical excavation feel deeply personal.” —Kirkus
“Yamashita incorporates satire and the surreal in prose that is playful yet knowing, fierce yet mournful.”—San Francisco Chronicle