A recent, useful bibliography of American war literature by David Lundberg acknowledges one of its significant gaps in a note: "There have also been no studies of Japanese- American war literature, even though a number of memoirs and novels about the relocation experience have appeared in recent years."1 At least one widely available scholarly study of the literature of relocation, a section of Elaine Kim's ground-breaking Asian-American Literature, was in print at the time of the bibliography's compilation, but this fact does not exactly invalidate Lundberg's statement; Kim's project nowhere defines itself as an examination of texts about "war." 2 Americans tend to reserve that term for narratives characterized by the description of armed combat, victors and vanquished, a space for masculine action called the battlefield. In accounts of the American canon of war literature, the enforced exile, imprisonment, economic losses, and dehumanizing treatment that Japanese-American civilians endured and recorded are, at best, relegated to footnotes.
Experiences and responses specific to Japanese-American women disappear entirely. Lundberg's one reference to women's writing about war, a short discussion of Great War novels by Wharton and Cather, concludes that these authors "continued to believe in the war because as women they never experienced combat at firsthand" (380). Many American women who have sought to write about World War II have faced the problem of their distance from the zones of actual military occupation and confrontation. But Japanese-American women--either denied citizenship or stripped of their rights as citizens, forcibly exiled from their homes, exposed to humiliation and violence, imprisoned in desert camps in the interior of an ostensibly sheltered and sheltering nation--experienced the war very much "at firsthand." The texts they produced in response to internment challenge assumptions about both gender and