From the shadows of postwar Canada and Japan to the vast Canadian prairies of the new millennium, The Emperor’s Orphans explores cultural identity through movements of place and voice. The story Sally Ito weaves is of loss and longing, restoration and recovery. Through her voice and the voices of her family, Ito recounts a tale of journeys to and from Japan and Canada. Along the way, she discovers startling family secrets that reveal the effects of war on her family’s lives and identities as Japanese Canadians.
Often gripping, always poetic, filled with things you may not know about the Japanese in Canada. Read it!
Maurice Mierau, Detachment, An Adoption Memoir
Deftly written, deeply personal and impressively informative, The Emperor's Orphans is an extraordinary blend of personal memoir and cultural/political history born of wartime fears and defensive policies ... An extraordinary, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end.
Midwest Book Review
[Ito's] lively travelogue slides effortlessly betwixt and between cultures, locales, generations, and family members and, in the process, peels back layers of self in a story that deepens as layers are stripped away, confronting family truths...This book is unique in that it bears witness to a Sansei’s often soul-wrenching search for herself. Ito’s journey provides a guide of sorts for those of us who are on similar paths.
Suggested Book Club discussion questions for The Emperor’s Orphans by Sally Ito
09. In the Emperor’s Orphans, we learn that Japanese culture is permeated by familial expectations, and a feeling of being “beholden” to family members, sometimes based on the actions of the parents and grandparents that came before you (p. 189). Have you ever been faced with weighty family expectations? What were they and how did you respond to them? Were there repercussions?
10. Do you agree with Sally’s family’s decision to let Masaru take over ownership of Saichi’s land? Why or why not?
11. In what ways is The Emperor’s Orphans a feminist book?
12. If you were to write a family memoir, what would be the unique thematic focus of the book to set it apart from others like it?
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