02 Mar / All I Asking for Is My Body by Milton Murayama [in What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature]
An often comic, yet poignant work about the coming-of-age of young Kiyoshi, living in the Japanese plantation camps of Hawai’i during the 1930s and ’40s. While he is expected to be a filial son and help pay off a $6,000 family debt, Kiyoshi cannot help admire his older, outspoken, less dutiful brother.
The title comes from first son Toshio’s constant complaint: “All I asking for is my body” – all I ask is that I am finally freed from my impossible filial duties to live my own life. In addition to the book’s important historical context (Hawaiian plantation life, Pearl Harbor, etc.), it also focuses on the importance of language among second-generation Asian immigrants living in Hawai’i. As Kiyoshi remarks, American-born children in Hawai’i interchangeably spoke four languages: “good English in school, pidgin English [the native Hawaiian pidgin] among themselves, good or pidgin Japanese to our parents and the other old folks.”
Readers: Young Adult, Adult