Julie Shigekuni will read from her new novel, “In Plain View” (Unnamed Books), on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles.
She will appear with South African author Henrietta Rose-Innes, who will present her U.S. debut novel, “Nineveh,” also from Unnamed Books.
In Shigekuni’s novel, Daidai and her husband Hiroshi have what many of their friends believe is a perfect life. Daidai has recently left her job as curator of the Japanese American Museum in Little Tokyo so that she and Hiroshi, a university professor, can try for a baby. Frustrated by their lack of success so far, and by their increasingly clinical love life, Daidai befriends one of Hiroshi’s graduate students.
New to Los Angeles, Satsuki clings to her Japanese heritage and introduces Daidai to her love of tea. But soon, Satsuki is appearing at their home uninvited, and Daidai grows suspicious. Her worries only increase when Satsuki’s estranged mother turns up dead in an L.A. monastery.
Spurred by this shocking event, Daidai begins to delve into the death of Satsuki’s mother — an apparent suicide — while Satsuki and Hiroshi’s friendship seems to deepen.
Everything changes when Daidai accompanies Satsuki to Japan to visit her wealthy father in northwestern Japan. As Daidai struggles to better comprehend Satsuki’s troubled family life, the two women are suddenly separated by an earthquake and the resulting chaos from the Fukushima disaster. The tragedy only continues to mount when Satsuki’s father is discovered dead.
Returning to Los Angeles, Daidai acquiesces to Satsuki’s request to move in with her and Hiroshi. But Satsuki’s dangerous and erratic behavior is not quelled by this act of generosity, and Daidai suddenly finds in herself in a fight to keep everything she holds dear.
Shigekuni is the author of three other novels: “A Bridge Between Us” (Anchor/Doubleday, 1995), “Invisible Gardens” (St. Martin’s Press, 2003), and “Unending Nora” (Red Hen Press 2008). Her fiction has been translated into German, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.
She was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award and a recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. She has received a Henfield Award and an American Japanese Literary Award for her writing.
Shigekuni received her B.A. from CUNY Hunter College and her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently at work on a novella and short story collection entitled “Beep on Me,” and a 60-minute video documentary, “Manju Mammas & the An-Pan Brigade,” for which she has received funding from the California Council for the Humanities and the Skirball Foundation and sponsorship from Visual Communications. She is director of the creative writing program and development director of an Asian American Studies program being launched at the University of New Mexico.
Shigekuni and Rose-Innes will also speak on Monday, Nov. 21, at 7:30 pm. at Green Apple Books on the Park, 1231 9th Ave. in San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 742-5833 or visit www.greenapplebooks.com.