“Where do any of us come from in this cold country? Oh Canada, whether you admitted it or not, we come from you we come from you. From the same soil, the slugs and slime and bogs and twigs and roots. We come from the country that plucks its people out like weeds and flings them into the roadside.”
― Joy Kogawa, Obasan
About Joy Kogawa
Acclaimed author Joy Kogawa is best known as the author of Obasan (1981), a Canadian novel that has become essential reading for a nation.
Obasan is based on Joy and her family’s forced relocation from Vancouver during the Second World War when she was six years old. The novel remains ‘a touchstone’ for the internment of Japanese Canadians during this era. Joy has also worked extensively to educate the public about this dark period in Canadian history and she actively fought for government redress.
Joy’s other novels for adults include Itsuka (1992, republished as Emily Kato in 2005) and The Rain Ascends (1995). Her works for children are Naomi’s Road (2005 – also produced as an opera by Vancouver Opera in 2005 and 2013) and Naomi’s Tree (2009). Since 1967, Joy has also published several poetry collections, including A Garden of Anchors: Selected Poems (2003).
Among her many honours, Joy has received an Order of Canada (1986), an order of British Columbia (2006) and, from the Japanese Government, an Order of the Rising Sun (2010) for ‘her contribution to the understanding and preservation of Japanese Canadian history.’
You can also view this video of Joy appearing on CBC Television talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight: