We discussed Linda's book choice Requiem by Frances Itani. Our meeting began with a FaceTime session with Ms. Itani who lives in Ottawa. We had a wonderful discussion with her about the research she did for this book. We were surprised to learn that she interviewed several Japanese Canadians who were forced to leave their homes and businesses on the British Columbia coast but she did not interview her husband's family. Ms Itani does not allow anyone to read her books until they are sent to her editor. Walking around her office with her computer she showed us the project boards of the two books that she is presently writing, not enough for us to see much about the books. She did tell us that one is an historical novel and the other is set in the present. We are looking forward to reading her new books!
We asked why she had chosen Beethoven's music for the novel and she told us she had discussed it with her son who is a member of the Danish Symphony Orchestra. Since the Japanese internment into camps was complete chaos, the loss of their homes and businesses, the lack of proper shelter in the camps, her son felt that Beethoven music was the best choice.
After our discussion with Ms Itani we shared our opinions of the novel Requiem. It was well loved. Everyone enjoyed the book and as her other books that we have read, the writing is beautiful. Itani's descriptions of the camps and how the people coped and survived is very visual. It is easy to imagine the shacks that they built, how they filled in the cracks, the gardens they created to help feed themselves and to give the community some revenue. The community spirit that lived within the confines of the camp was palatable in her descriptions.
The main character Bin Okuma is an artist with a love of classical music, especially Beethoven. After the sudden death of his wife Lena, he decides to drive out to British Columbia to visit the site of the internment camp where he spent a part of his childhood and to visit "first father" with whom he has had little contact since his childhood in the camps. As he drives, his thoughts go from his childhood in the camp and his life once they are freed with Okuma-san his second father and his adult life as an artist with Lena and their son Greg. Even though the story alternates from the time period of the camps to the present, it is easy to follow. The descriptions of the life in the camps are Bin's memories flooding back into his mind as he drives towards the site of the camps and the reunion with "first father". It is a well crafted book, well worth the read.
Thank you Linda for this wonderful choice.