Itani, Frances

  28 Reviews

Loyal citizens one minute, enemy aliens the next, Bin Okuma and his Japanese-Canadian family are interned during World War II. Decades later and recently widowed, Bin, now a celebrated artist, returns to British Columbia, revisiting the memories of this period of his childhood and attempting to lay to rest the traumas of dislocation and injustice, including his being given away for adoption.

Distinguished by its delicate and unsentimental approach, this story explores a difficult episode of Canadian history, while reflecting on the challenges of loss and reconciliation.

Comments from Groups

Everyone in the group loved this book - the descriptive language and the story. The best book we've had. [Auckland 277]

Thoroughly enjoyed by seven of our eight members. [Hamilton 007]

Brilliant writing. We all loved it and would like more of her books. [Auckland 189]

We all loved reading Requiem. It was a revelation to us that the Japanese community in Canada was treated so badly. The characters were sympathetically portrayed and it was beautifully written. [Queenstown 003]

Everyone enjoyed this book. [Hastings 010]

We all loved this book. Frances Itani is the best writer, and one we had never heard of before. A moving and exceptionally well written book. [Hamilton 029] This is the only book that our whole Book Club has loved and enjoyed. It is a book to be recommended to all. A must read. Christchurch 078

There was a unanimously positive reponse by our group to 'Requiem'. It was felt that the novel was well constructed, with amazingly descriptive passages, dealing with emotions sensitively. All agreed that it was well researched and instructive. We were ignorant of the Japanese internment camps in the USA and Canada, and knew little of the camp in Featherston. Whangarei 002



CHCH 575
A number of the group were unable to continue with the book after the first few chapters but for those that persevered we would rate it highly. Great discussion around the internment of the Japanese in both Canada and America and the impact of this. Loved the ending.
TAUR 049
A wonderful book. Amidst the harrowing experiences of the treatment of the Japanese Canadians, there is also great beauty in the telling of this episode of history.
RAUM 003
Great book!
CART 003
Enjoyed the book - very informative.
Everyone in the group agreed that this was an excellent read. For some, they hadn't realised or knew what had happened to Canadian/American Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbour.
AUCK 448
This book was very slow to start but picked up pace and had a wonderful ending. The history of the internment was quite an eye opener for all. The book sparked a very interesting discussion about nature vs nuture in regards to Bin's upbringing.
A hard read for some because of the back & forth of the characters stories. Interesting facts.
Some did not like the way the book kept going backwards and forwards in time.
WELL 060
Brilliant book - beautifully written. Every member loved this book.
A beautifully written book that went somewhere quietly . A piece of history we didn't know much about told through a journey into the past. Well worth reading.
CHCH 449
Most of us enjoyed this factual story for its historical aspect. It was a little slow in parts but, overall, a very good narrative.
We found this book to be a slow, dreamy read. It highlighted the importance of 'family' to children and if taken away from family how it can have a long lasting effect well into adulthood. Also touching on land confiscation, the emerging 'self reliance' of the disenfranchised Canadian-Japanese who were evicted from the towns and left to fend for themselves in the cold mountainous areas of the Canadian hinterland in WW2. We discussed 'resilience' from the Japanese survivors point of view and from the point of view of a child being adopted by the next door neighbour who was childless.
CHCH 489
Enjoyed by most in our group, especially the writing style and imagery.
Lovely book. Evocative of place and time. The descriptions of the music and the places are very evocative. Through the book we learn interesting history that many of us did not know about. Recommend reading while playing the music described in the book.
A haunting, elegiac book that sheds new insight on a familiar period in history, through the unfamiliar (to us) story of the Japanese experience in Canada during the second world war. Our group was split between those who loved the poetry of the language and the slow-burn story, and those who found the pace too gentle to propel them to the end.
THAM 005
All except one of our group loved it. The impact of the war on Japanese living in Canada was unknown to all of us and we found the writing skilled and flowing. Itani crafted an atmospheric novel that spoke to our emotions; a must read, quality work.
Well liked. Wasn't the most compelling writing but story is told well and eventually comes to a satisfying end. Poignant.
AUCK 412
Quite a haunting story, and yet another part of war that most of us are only vaguely aware of. One person in our group found this book the best.
An extraordinary story, beautifully written and haunting. This 'stays with you' long after finishing the book.
ASHB 016
Everyone enjoyed this book although some found it a little slow in parts, but still enjoyed it. A lot of us knew nothing about this happening so found that interesting, and certainly didn't know that similar acts happened in NZ, so that created a lot of discussion. One of the ladies used to sing this music in a choir years ago so she loved the music and another couple of the ladies looked up the music. We were all shocked about how it happened full stop but also the fact of the boy being given away. We all agreed it was a great story and one we would be unlikely to forget.
We were all in agreement this time - a lovely read which gave us plenty to talk about. A shocking history written in a gentle, understated and reflective tone, in character with the Japanese subjects. A good look also at musical and artistic issues, family and marital ties and bereavement.
Everyone who read it loved it. We liked the writer's style (one so much, that she has gone out and bought another of her books!). This was a piece of history none of us was aware of. One member researched Somer Island to compare what happened in NZ, and the Pahiatua prisoner of war camps. The notes were very well written, and the questions were great.
WELL 168
Most of the group enjoyed the story. A bit slow at times. Interesting to look back on the history of the Japanese people, and the persecution and hardship suffered. History does repeat itself.
AUCK 055
Brilliant - best book of the year.
CHCH 196
The group all really enjoyed reading this beautifully written book. We all learnt a lot about the internment of the Japanese - something most of us previously knew nothing about. We discussed at length Father giving Bin away, and whether this would happen still, or in other cultures - also whether Bin was advantaged or disadvantaged by this. We questioned whether internment could happen here again, and whether we could/would stop it!
WELL 123
We all really enjoyed the book and the way it was written. It engendered very lively discussion. All members were horrified that the Japanese- Canadian citizens were treated so badly. Members really enjoyed the way art and music played a large part in Bin's life and survival.
HAVE 008
Requiem was enjoyed by the entire group. It was a wonderful pick for the holiday read. Thank you.
CHCH 324
An excellent topic to discuss; it enlightened many to what happened to the Japanese in Canada. Everyone liked the book and thought it beautifully written.