Naomi Hirahara (“Clark and Division”) and Susan H. Kamei (“When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II”) will discuss their books on Thursday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. PT in a virtual program presented by Creating Conversations.

The two authors take a fictional and non-fiction look at the lives of Japanese Americans during and immediately after World War II, with a focus on their experiences in incarcreation camps, and the lives they forged after they were released.

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Naomi Hirahara and Susan H. Kamei

“Clark and Division” (Soho Crime) is a mystery set in 1944 Chicago; Publishers Weekly notes, “Elegant prose matches the meticulous research. This well-crafted tale of injustice isn’t just for mystery fans.”

“When Can We Go Back to America?” is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers imprint, but is also adult-accessible. It releases on Tuesday, Sept. 7, but can be preordered.

“‘Clark and Division’ is a moving, eye-opening depiction of life after Manzanar. Naomi Hirahara has infused her mystery with a deep humanity, unearthing a piece of buried American history,” said actor and activist George Takei, who was incarcerated with his family as a child.

“I can’t stress how moving this book is and what a huge impact it will have. The history of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan is fascinating, but what makes this book truly special are the first-hand, diary-like accounts from the young people who spent months imprisoned by their own country — people who loved and respected this country and who instead of being treated as citizens, were treated as enemies,” said Krista V., senior editor, on “When Can We Go Back to America?”

“It’s impossible to read these accounts and not be moved. There are very few books, especially in the YA genre, on this sobering chapter of U.S. history, and exploring this history is unfortunately particularly relevant right now.”

Hirahara will drop by Creating Conversations’ Redondo Beach location to sign copies of “Clark and Division” on Friday, Aug. 27. Add any inscription notations to the Comments Section at Stage 2 of checkout, after adding books to your ecommerce cart.

Preorders of “When Can We Go Gack to America?” will receive a signed bookplate.

Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, including “Summer of the Big Bachi,” which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and one of The Chicago Tribune’s Ten Best Mysteries and Thrillers; Gasa Gasa Girl; Snakeskin Shamisen; and Hiroshima Boy. She is also the author of the L.A.-based Ellie Rush mysteries.

A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo, she has co-written non-fiction books like “Life After Manzanar” and the award-winning “Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor.” The Stanford University alumna was born and raised in Altadena and now resides in the adjacent town of Pasadena.

Kamei is the granddaughter of Japanese immigrants. Her maternal grandparents were part of the Japanese classical music community in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, and her paternal grandparents were vegetable farmers in Orange County. During World War II, her mother and her parents were incarcerated at the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia and at the War Relocation Authority camp in Heart Mountain, Wyo. Her father, together with his grandparents, parents, and siblings, were detained at the WRA camp known as Poston II in Arizona.

Kamei received her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center. She teaches at the University of Southern California on the legal ramifications of the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and how they apply to constitutional issues, civil liberties, and national security considerations today.

“Clark and Division”

Edgar Award-winner Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration.

Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from Manzanar, where they have been detained by the U.S. government since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, together with thousands of other Japanese Americans. The life in California the Itos were forced to leave behind is gone; instead, they are being resettled 2,000 miles away in Chicago, where Aki’s older sister, Rose, was sent months earlier and moved to the new Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division streets. But on the eve of the Ito family’s reunion, Rose is killed by a subway train.

Aki, who worshipped her sister, is stunned. Officials are ruling Rose’s death a suicide. Aki cannot believe her perfect, polished, and optimistic sister would end her life. Her instinct tells her there is much more to the story, and she knows she is the only person who could ever learn the truth.

Inspired by historical events, Clark and Division infuses an atmospheric and heartbreakingly real crime fiction plot with rich period details and delicately wrought personal stories Naomi Hirahara has gleaned from 30 years of research and archival work in Japanese American history.

“When Can We Go Back to America?”

In the vein of “They Called Us Enemy” comes a powerful new book that recounts the experience of Japanese American incarceration from the perspective of the young people affected.

It’s difficult to believe it happened here, in the Land of the Free: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. government forcibly removed more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast and imprisoned them in desolate detention camps until the end of World War II just because of their race.

In what former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through this harrowing experience tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. For the first time, why and how these tragic events took place are interwoven with more than 130 individual voices of those who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, many of them children and young adults.

Now more than ever, their words will resonate with readers who are confronting questions about racial identity, immigration, and citizenship, and what it means to be an American.

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