The Grave on the Wall

The Grave on the Wall

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Author/Editor: Shimoda, Brandon
Publisher: City Lights Books
Date: 2019
Binding: Paperback
Condition: NEW

Born on an island off the cost of Hiroshima around 1908, Midori Shimoda died in North Carolina in 1996, after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for two decades. A photographer, he was incarcerated in a Department of Justice prison during WWII under suspicion of being a spy for Japan. From his birth to contract laborer/picture-bride parents to his immigration and prewar life in Seattle's Nihonmachi, to wartime incarceration and postwar resettlement in New York City, his is a story of a man and a family vying for the American dream earnestly, but not without some bitterness.

Poet Brandon Shimoda has crafted a lyrical-collage portrait of a grandfather he barely knew, and a moving meditation on memory and forgetting. The book begins with Midori's first memory (washing the feet of his own grandfather's corpse) and ends with the author's last memory of him. In between are vignettes of camellia blossoms, picture brides, suicidal monks, ancestral fires, great-grandmothers, bathhouses, atomic bomb survivors, paintings, photographs, burial mounds, golden pavilions, and dementia. In a series of pilgrimages he makes, from his own home in the Arizona desert to the family's ancestral village in Japan, to a Montana museum of WWII detention where he discovers a previously unknown photographic portrait of his grandfather, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather--and therefore himself.