T. Coraghessan Boyle, East Is East

Martin Kich (Wright State University)
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In this, Boyle’s fifth novel, the central character is Hiro Tanaka, who is half-American and half-Japanese. His American father, a musician who came to Japan to explore Zen Buddhism, went back to America, leaving behind Hiro and his Japanese mother, a bar hostess who had fantasized about becoming a rock singer. The practical consequences, as much as the shame of this desertion, eventually contributed to his mother’s suicide, and it has cast a long shadow over Tanaka’s own life. Beyond the sort of social stigma that attaches to being “illegitimate”, Tanaka has been treated as an outcast because, for centuries, ethnic homogeneity has been a fundamental element of Japanese culture. Even today, less than 3% of Japan’s population is non-Japanese. So, a person of racially mixed…

2644 words

Citation: Kich, Martin. "East Is East". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 July 2024 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=41648, accessed 25 July 2024.]

41648 East Is East 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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