From the icy plains of Montana to the blistering deserts of New Mexico, the World War II Japanese American incarceration would take Honolulu businessman and poet Suikei Furuya on an odyssey zigzagging through seven states and across eleven thousand miles. Furuya’s chronicle of his imprisonment, Haisho Tenten
, published in Japanese fifty years ago, is now translated and available here in English for the first time. An Internment Odyssey
provides a rare first-hand account of an immigrant life turned upside down, when the country of Furuya’s birth attacks the nation that he has come to call home. With a keen eye and a poet’s sensibility, Furuya captures the surprise and despair that he feels over his abrupt arrest and separation from his family, his humiliation and outrage over his incarceration, and finally resignation as his life becomes a seemingly endless journey to one internment camp after another. Laced throughout with poems from Furuya’s exile, An Internment Odyssey
depicts the efforts of internees to bring dignity and joy to their lives under imprisonment. Furuya’s accounts of Camp Livingston in Louisiana and Camp Forrest in Tennessee are the first in the English-language literature by a Japanese American internee. An Internment Odyssey
poses questions still relevant today about the roles that race and ethnicity play in defining what it means to be loyal to our nation.
Distributed for Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i
Author: Furuya, Suikei;
Born in Japan in 1889, Furuya moved to Hawai'i at age eighteen. He worked for plantations and stores for five years, and between 1919 and 1963, he managed furniture stores and held high positions in various organizations such as the Honolulu Japanese Merchants Association, the Hawai'i United Japanese Society, and the Kalihi Education Foundation. On December 7, 1941, he was arrested by the FBI and spent four years interned in various Mainland camps. In November 1945 he returned to Hawai'i and served as president of Hawaiian State Enterprises, Inc., and executive vice president of Pacific Suppliers, Inc. In 1977 Furuya passed away in Honolulu at the age of eighty-eight.