Author Wakako Yamauchi, known for her groundbreaking short story “And the Soul Shall Dance,” which was turned into an award-winning play, will discuss her collection of short fiction in the anthology “Rosebud and Other Stories” at a program set at the Japanese American National Museum, 1st and Central in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, on Sunday, May 1, beginning at 2 p.m.
Yamauchi, who was born in California’s Imperial Valley in the 1920s, attended night school at the Otis Art Center after World War II. Known more for her artistic talents, she gained an opportunity to display her writing skills when she was asked by the Rafu Shimpo to contribute to its annual holiday edition. Her husband, Chester, suggested that she agree to submit an illustration if the newspaper would print one of her short stories in 1960. The newspaper agreed and annually, Yamauchi would contribute a short story to the Rafu Shimpo’s special edition.
As a writer, Yamauchi discovered that her fiction writing was “closer to what I knew — reaching in there and searching for the truth.” In the 1970s, a group of Asian American writers organized the landmark anthology “Aiiieeeee!,” which included Yamauchi’s “And the Soul Shall Dance.” East West Players’ artistic director, Mako, read the story and convinced Yamauchi to turn it into a play. The play won critical acclaim at East West Players and was produced as a television drama for the PBS station KCET in Los Angeles.
“Rosebud and Other Stories,” Yamauchi’s second book, represents her latest works. As with much of her fiction, the stories are populated with desert farmers, factory workers, gamblers, housewives, con artists, and dreamers, all facing tough times. Yamauchi is often seen as the voice of the Nisei generation, revealing their secret desires, unfulfilled longing, and irrepressible humor.
This program is made possible through UCLA’s George and Sakaye Aratani Endowed Chair in Japanese American Redress, Internment and Community and UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center. It is also supported by the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, Pacific Asian American Women Writers West, and Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.