Obasan, Joy Kogawa

“You have to remember. You are your history. If you cut any of it off you’re an amputee. Don’t deny the past. Remember everything. If you’re bitter, be bitter. Cry it out. Scream. Denial is gangrene.”

This is one of those books I would have read if I’d been an English major. It’s a book all Canadians should read. Because we do forget the things we’ve done. We learn about the Japanese internment in school, but many of us forget. It’s easy enough to forget things that make us uncomfortable, and the internment should. Think about whatever your Canadian identity means to you and recall that somewhere in our history we are capable of things this terrible. Remember.

Obasan is first a lament from those wronged by the internment and second a plea to remember. It is beautifully crafted. I wish I had read it sooner.

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