Nikkei Australia member Rebecca Hausler explores the fictional reimaginings of Japanese internment during World War II in a new chapter published in Border-Crossing Japanese Literature: Reading Multiplicity.

Citation: Uchiyama, A., & Hartley, B. (Eds.). (2023). Border-Crossing Japanese Literature: Reading Multiplicity (1st ed.). Routledge.

Rebecca’s chapter includes a discussion of Nikkei Australia member Christine Piper’s novel After Darkness.

Abstract: Chapter Seven – Crossing Borders of Culture and Language: Historical Fiction Depicting Japanese Internment in Australia

‘World War II saw several Allied nations, including Australia, detain thousands of Japanese civilians in remote internment camps. In more recent years, fictional re-imaginings of Japanese internment have provided new explorations and alternative constructions of this underemphasised chapter in Australian history. Transcultural works such as Cory Taylor’s My Beautiful Enemy (2013), Inoue Hisashi’s Kiiroi Nezumi (1978) and Christine Piper’s After Darkness (2014) serve to critique ideas around a unified national and cultural identity in two ways. First, these novels depict characters who repeatedly cross borders between nations and cultures. Second, the works themselves traverse linguistic boundaries by playing with the borders that hegemonically define Japanese and English forms. Depicting the chaotic background of war, a time in which nationalism was rife and the concept of dual citizenship a legal impossibility, the three novels discussed here challenge what it means to be ‘Japanese’ or ‘Australian’. In this chapter, I show how deviations from monocultural ideas of selfhood are demonstrated by the ways in which selected characters self-identify, express racial hybridity or detach from their dominant or ‘mother’ culture. These ‘border-crossing devices’ create interstitial identities that reflect the realities of an increasingly globalised and transcultural world.’

Border-Crossing Japanese Literature: Reading Multiplicity

Edited By Akiko Uchiyama, Barbara Hartley

‘This collection focuses on metaphorical as well as temporal and physical border-crossing in writing from and about Japan.’This collection focuses on metaphorical as well as temporal and physical border-crossing in writing from and about Japan.

With a strong consciousness of gender and socio-historic contexts, contributors to the book adopt an intercultural and interdisciplinary approach to examine the writing of authors whose works break free from the confines of hegemonic Japanese literary endeavour. By demonstrating how the texts analysed step outside the space of ‘Japan’, they accordingly foreground the volatility of textual expression related to that space. The authors discussed include Takahashi Mutsuo and Nagai Kafū, both of whom take literary inspiration from geographical sites outside Japan. Several chapters examine the work of exemplary border-crossing poet, novelist and essayist, Itō Hiromi. There are discussions of the work of Tawada Yōko whose ability to publish in German and Japanese marks her also as a representative writer of border-crossing texts. Two chapters address works by Murakami Haruki who, although clearly affiliating with western cultural form, is rarely discussed in specific border-crossing terms. The chapter on Ainu narratives invokes topics such as translation, indigeneity and myth, while an analysis of Japanese prisoner-of-war narratives notes the language and border-crossing nexus.’

A vital collection for scholars and students of Japanese literature.

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