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Some 87 years ago, Japanese American writer Shōson Nagahara serialized a novel, A Tale of Osato, in the pages of the Rafu Shimpo—a Japanese American newspaper, which first started in Little Tokyo back in 1903. Now, for the first time ever, Nagahara’s collected writings have been translated into English and published by Kaya Press: Lament in the Night.

To commemorate the publication of this book, the Rafu Shimpo will once again serialize Nagahara’s work, now translated into English by Andrew Leong. Stay tuned for weekly installments that follow the life of Osato-San, a young Japanese woman who makes the treacherous journey to America and struggles to survive in 1920s Los Angeles.

 

From the first installment of the re-serialization of The Tale of Osato, Written by Shōson Nagahara and translated by Andrew Leong (Buy the book here.)

“Oh! What a horrible storm! How frightful!” Osato’s voice trembled as she peered down at the bunk below. The young woman in the lower bunk was from Aizu and seemed to be around eighteen years old. Osato wasn’t quite sure what her name was, something like Fujiko… or Fusako… Anyway, that was what her husband had called her.

The young woman thrust her head out from her bunk and looked up at Osato.

“It really is…and it’s getting worse…just when I thought the worst was over… I think I’m going to be sick.”

The young woman grimaced, causing her swollen cheeks to take on a strange, twisted expression. Sweat streaked through her thick white make-up, exposing yellow patches of skin. Her enormous coiffure drooped down in gloomy disarray, making it seem as if her neck no longer had the strength to support her head.

“This is even worse than being on the Bōshū Sea!”

Osato’s voice was sharp with fear.

“It’s horrible… The Bōshū Sea is always bad, but running into a storm like this out here is even worse. There are still two or three more days before we reach America.” The young woman’s voice was filled with terror.

 

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