While the theme is Hiroshima, the seeds of Rahna Reiko Rizzutos gripping memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning, were planted while she was researching her first book, a novel called Why She Left Us, which takes place in Colorado at Camp Amache, one of ten locations where the U.S. government forced Japanese citizens to live during WWII. I was kind of enraged by the silence around the internment, says Rizzuto, whose parents were interned at the camp. Nobody talked about it.
In the course of trying to get people to talk about it, however, Rizzuto interviewed a great aunt, who got her interested in the bombing of Hiroshima, so after completing Why She Left Us, she set out to write a novel about that, too. Many of her interview subjects were hesitant to talk about their experience with the bombing as well. Their stories were very well rehearsed, she explains.
But then 9/11 happened. It totally broke open the stories, she says. The narrative changed. Whereas before Rizzuto had to pester people to talk to her, now people were coming to me. Being in Japan also changed how Rizzuto viewed the catastrophe of 9/11 from the perspective of a people who were once devastatingly bombed by the United States. Meanwhile, Rizzutos husband, who was living in New York, viewed it through a much different lens, and it was that dissonance of perspective that eventually led to the dissolution of their marriage.
Eventually, what had begun as a novel about the bombing of Hiroshima turned into the story of her experience in Japan in the after-math of 9/11. Tonight, Rizzuto brings her story to Denver, where she will discuss and sign Hiroshima in the Morning at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2426 East Colfax Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Attendance is free, but copies of the book run $16.95. For more information, call 303-322-7727 or visit www.tatteredcover.com.
Mon., Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., 2010