Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2009

KAORI TANEGASHIMA (author of her memoir Daughter of a Gun) writes:
I was born in Beijing, China, in 1939 as the fourth of six children. My father was a CEO of the Manchurian Railroad Company. In Beijing our lives were privileged and protected until the end of World War II in 1945. Upon Japan’s defeat, we were forced to leave everything behind and return to Japan. We came back to Sasebo, an overcrowded suburb of Nagasaki, which had just been destroyed by an atom bomb. Our lives changed over night from luxurious comfort to a new struggle for survival. My mother actually died of malnutrition three months after the birth of my last baby sister.
Eventually, my father took the whole family into the modern Shinto religion called Perfect Liberty. For me that meant spending my school years in a PL dormitory where liberty was not a top priority, but rigid discipline and almost total control of our lives was the rule. I was determined to “escape.” When I was 19, I had found an American sponsor, had my steamship ticket and was on my way to America all by myself. When I arrived, I had no relatives, no friends, no money. Today, I am retired after teaching as a professor of Japanese Language and Asian American Studies for 30 years at East Los Angeles College.

Daughter of a Gun is an autobiography of a life in China, Japan and America. Kaori tells the stories of her life among those cultures with clarity and understated humor.

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