Wakako Yamauchi
b. 1924

WAKAKO YAMAUCHI was born on or just before October 25, 1924, in Westmorland, California, to Yasaku Nakamura and Hamako Machida, immigrant tenant farmers. Not eligible for citizenship and forbidden to own property under California's Alien Land Law, her parents moved the family every few years in order to find work. In the mid-1930s, their nomadic existence came to an end when they settled in Oceanside, California, to run a boarding house for Japanese immigrants. But the order of their new life was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II during Wakako's senior year of high school.

Throughout the war the family was interned at a relocation camp in Poston, Arizona, where Wakako found work as a layout artist at the Poston Chronicle, the camp newspaper. There she met fellow writer Hisaye Yamamoto, a few years her senior and already becoming established in the Japanese-American press. Wakako followed Yamamoto around the camp while she took notes for her column in the Chronicle, but what began as veneration and mentoring soon transformed into a friendship of mutual inspiration and artistic support.

Released early from camp in 1944 by signing a "loyalty oath," Wakako moved to Chicago, where she worked for a candy factory until 1945, when she rejoined her mother and siblings in San Diego. Barely a year later, she moved to Los Angeles, where she roomed with Hisaye Yamamoto and took classes in drawing, layout, and painting at the Otis Art Center. In 1948, she married Chester Yamauchi, with whom she subsequently had one daughter, Joy. From 1960 to 1974, she published one drawing and one story a year in the Japanese‐ American daily, Los Angeles Rafu Shimpo, though by her own account she was primarily a housewife and mother. One early story, "And the Soul Shall Dance," was printed in the Asian-American anthology Aiiieeeee! in 1974, bringing Yamauchi greater recognition. Divorced in 1975, she began writing full time.

She completed her first play, And the Soul Shall Dance (based on the short story) in 1976 with a Rockefeller playwright-in-residence grant. The two-act drama recreates the environment of California's Imperial Valley during the 1930s, focusing on the lives of two Japanese‐ American families struggling to survive as farmers. Yamauchi uses this setting to mesh complex themes: racism, assimilation, identity, sexual awakening, coming of age, rebellion against proscribed gender and generational structures. The play was originally staged by the East

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Asian American Women Writers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Asian‐ American Women Writers *
  • Contents *
  • The Analysis of Women Writers xi
  • Introduction xv
  • Diana Chang B. 1934 1
  • Edith Maude Eaton 1865-1914 Winnifred Eaton 1875-1954 14
  • Jessica Tarahata Hagedorn B. 1949 28
  • Maxine Hong Kingston B. 1940 37
  • Joy Kogawa B. 1935 53
  • Bharati Mukherjee B. 1938 68
  • Amy Tan B. 1952 81
  • Linda Ty-Casper B. 1931 98
  • Jade Snow Wong B. 1919 110
  • Hisaye Yamamoto B. 1921 121
  • Wakako Yamauchi B. 1924 133
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