“Seriously, I Will Read Your Book”
Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
Historical fiction and memoir writer takes readers on a personal journey where history and memory are uncovered and the ties that bind are forever altered.
Hiroshima in the Morning
Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
The Feminist Press at CUNY (September 14, 2010)
Paperback, Kindle, Nookbook
Back Cover: In June 2001 Rahna Reiko Rizzuto went to Hiroshima in search of a deeper understanding of her war-torn heritage. She planned to spend six months there, interviewing the few remaining survivors of the atomic bomb. A mother of two young boys, she was encouraged to go by her husband, who quickly became disenchanted by her absence.
It is her first solo life adventure, immediately exhilarating for her, but her research starts off badly. Interviews with the hibakusha feel rehearsed, and the survivors reveal little beyond published accounts. Then the attacks on September 11 change everything. The survivors’ carefully constructed memories are shattered, causing them to relive their agonizing experiences and to open up to Rizzuto in astonishing ways.
Separated from family and country while the world seems to fall apart, Rizzuto’s marriage begins to crumble as she wrestles with her ambivalence about being a wife and mother. Woven into the story of her own awakening are the stories of Hiroshima in the survivors’ own words. The parallel narratives explore the role of memory in our lives and show how memory is not history but a story we tell ourselves to explain who we are.
Lara’s Review: Hiroshima in the Morning interweaves the memories and history of the bombing of Hiroshima, along with Reiko’s personal journey to rediscovery. Her journey starts in New York as a mother of two leaving her family for the first time alone. She will be gone for six months to research and interview Hiroshima victims in Japan. What comes out of her time there is not only a chronicle of the bombing and the effect on the victims, but also questions how memory plays a huge role in self-definition.
At first, adjusting to life on her own is not what she expected. As the days progress she questions her memories, being a mother, her marriage and how she is evolving into the person she truly wants to be. The outcome creates an unexpected result.
There has been a lot of emphasis on this book about motherhood and what “motherhood” means. That is part of the book, but it touches on so much more. Interviews with the Hiroshima victims, her relationships with the Japanese people and their stories are woven into the book seamlessly with her own story. Shifting from a memory of her own mother to the memory a hibakusha has of their mother. I throughly enjoyed this book. It gave voice to an important part of history and delved into life experiences that do not often get discussed. If you are a historical fiction buff, who likes a touch of personal, this is a must read.
Why She Left Us was Rahna Reiko Rizzuto’s first historical fiction novel which she won the American Book Award for in 2000. Reiko is a faculty member at Goddard College in the MFA Creative Writing Program.
Author Interview to post April 20th.
Find out more about Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, her life as a writer, as well as, a chance to win a copy of Hiroshima in the Morning!