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Gene Oishi

Gene Oishi

Gene Oishi, former Washington and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, has written articles on the Japanese American experience for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and West Magazine, in addition to the Baltimore Sun. His memoir, In Search of Hiroshi, was published in 1988.

Now retired, he lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Sabine.

Fox Drum Bebop

Fox Drum Bebop

Kaya Press Dec. 2014

Hiroshi Kono is eight years old and just beginning to question the racial and economic inequities he sees around him when he and his family, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, are packed off to a concentration camp run by the US military. The Arizona desert in which Hiroshi and his family find themselves is a harsh and barren world that sets sibling against sibling, parent against child, and neighbor against neighbor in a complex grappling with duty and disappointment that will reverberate through the decades that follow. Sexual initiation, kabuki performances, all-night jam sessions in French jazz clubs, alcoholism, and the ever-present drumbeat of family form the backdrop against which Hiroshi, his siblings, and his parents struggle to define themselves. Whether describing Hiroshi’s tumultuous coming of age or excavating the generational grievances exacerbated by internment, author Gene Oishi gives heartbreaking and at times humorous context to the post-war decades of a family set adrift by its experiences during WWII. In this clear-eyed and meticulously observed first novel, Oishi weaves together Hiroshi’s story with those of his family members and community to create a densely textured portrait of the physical and psychological displacement brought about over time by the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans.


“A fine novel about a sad chapter in American history: our treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. Oishi knows whereof he speaks, and he speaks of it eloquently indeed.” — John Barth

Gene Oishi news

Gene Oishi Wins AAAS Best Book Award

Congratulations to Kaya author Gene Oishi who won the 2016 Association for Asian American Studies Best Book Awards in Creative Writing: Prose for his novel Fox Drum Bebop! The selection committee remarked in their citation: “Gene Oishi said in a recent interview that it took him 50 years to write his first novel, which we […]

Fox Drum Bebop on The Hopkins Review

Gene Oishi’s novel Fox Drum Bebop recently received a most insightful review by Jenny Xie, published in The Hopkins Review. In this review, Xie breaks down how Oishi portrays the protagonist Hiroshi Kono’s Japanese-American identity. She describes Oishi as “skilled and clear-eyed,” and the novel as impactful through “the ferocity of its voice.” You can read more of the review at this link.

Fox Drum Bebop in Megareview on Asian American Literature Fans

Asian American Literature Fans on Livejournal aims “to illuminate the wide ranging and expansive terrain of Asian American and Asian Anglophone literatures.” Back in April, they sang the praises of Gene Oishi’s FOX DRUM BEBOP and our press as a whole. The review emphasizes the book’s profundity, “Oishi is quite keen on elaborating upon not […]

Gene Oishi’s Q&A with Baltimore Magazine

Baltimore Magazine hosted a Q&A with Gene Oishi, author of FOX DRUM BEBOP. The issues discussed are vast–ranging from Oishi’s opinion on writing fiction versus non-fiction to his comment on current racial relations. In the interview, Oishi also traces Americans’ shifting awareness of concentration camps in America and notes the euphemisms previously used to describe […]


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