Rahna Reiko Rizzuto will discuss her book “Hiroshima in the Morning” on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, First and Central in Little Tokyo.
In June 2001, Rizzuto went to Hiroshima in search of a deeper understanding of her war-torn heritage. She planned to spend six months there, interviewing the few remaining survivors of the atomic bomb. A mother of two young boys, she was encouraged to go by her husband, who quickly became disenchanted by her absence.
It was her first solo life adventure, immediately exhilarating for her, but her research began badly. Interviews with the hibakusha felt rehearsed, and the survivors revealed little beyond published accounts. Then the attacks on Sept. 11 changed everything. The survivors’ carefully constructed memories shattered, causing them to relive their agonizing experiences and to open up to Rizzuto in astonishing ways.
Separated from her family and country while the world seemed to fall apart, Rizzuto’s marriage crumbled as she wrestled with her ambivalence about being a wife and mother. Woven into the story of her own awakening are the stories of Hiroshima in the survivors’ own words. The parallel narratives explore the role of memory in our lives, and show how memory is not history but a story we tell ourselves to explain who we are.
“Hiroshima in the Morning” is a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and winner of the Grub Street National Book Award. It has been called ” lyrical and moving, transcendent and beautiful” (NBCC nomination).
Grace Talusan, judge for the Grub Street Award said, “Using diary entries, emails, telephone transcripts, and oral histories, Rizzuto pieces together a masterful collage about Hiroshima, 9/11, ambivalent motherhood, a doomed marriage, and a writer trying to understand what narrative means amidst so many kinds of bombs hitting so many beloved targets.”
Rizzuto has appeared on “The Today Show,” “The View,” “The Joy Behar Show,” “The Gayle King Show” and other programs, and writes for Salon and the Huffington Post.
Her first novel, “Why She Left Us,” which won an American Book Award, was inspired by her family’s internment at Amache, Colo., during World War II and more than 30 interviews with former internees. She is a professor in the Goddard College Master’s in Creative Writing Program.
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