New Title for 2011 » Nonfiction/Memoir
Dear Gloria: Homesick for America in Wartime Japan
I loved America almost as much as Japan. I was brought up there. I sang their national anthem and even pledged allegiance to their flag. I lived among them & knew their every sorrow & happiness. But I had a country. I belonged to a country that hated America so I had to hate too. I had to hate what I loved most—but now the war's over. Do I still have to hate?
Dear Gloria is the diary of a Japanese teenager, Toneko Kimura, written in the form of letters to her childhood best friend Gloria Goodman. Toneko started the diary after leaving America, where she had been living since she was five years old. The impending war led many Japanese nationals to return "home," although it was a barely remembered home for Toneko. She could speak only elementary Japanese, preferred Western clothing, and wrote her diary in English. She thought like an American, spoke like an American, and behaved like an American. Along with other returnees, Toneko was forced to go to a special school that reintegrated children into Japanese culture, language, and society.
Her fluency in English was first scorned, but became a sought-after skill in wartime Japan. At seventeen she was recruited to act in Japanese propaganda radio programs transmitted in English to American forces in the Pacific, much like the infamous "Tokyo Rose." She used the opportunity to reach out to America again, hoping that Gloria was somehow listening across the sea.
After the bombing of Hiroshima and the Emperor's surrender, Toneko felt torn by her divided loyalties. Japan was no longer at war with America, but for the first time Toneko felt she was betraying her country by harboring love for America. She stopped addressing her diary entries to Gloria and began to write exclusively in Japanese Soon after, Toneko's bilingual abilities were called upon again, this time by the American army of occupation to serve as an interpreter for the Yokohama War Crimes Trials. Still just a teenager, Toneko sat in the courtroom with the accused Japanese officers and translated the proceedings and verdicts to them. Working for U.S. forces and flirting with handsome GIs, Toneko felt the pull of American culture once again. In a tempestuous time, Toneko's diary captures the fascinating love triangle between a teenage girl and two nations at war.
Toneko Kimura Hirai
After World War II, Toneko Kimura Hirai joined the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement, an organization of Christian peace activists. Working as an interpreter, she traveled extensively with the MRA and pursued a 20-year career as an interpreter for numerous other international organizations and conferences. Following a brief marriage, Hirai returned to Japan at age 48 to get a bachelor's degree at Sophia University. She later moved to Hawaii and enrolled in a PhD program in political science, earning her doctorate at age 66. Now in her early 80s and suffering residual effects of a stroke, Hirai resides in a continuing care facility in Zushi, about 30 miles south of Tokyo near Hayama.
Toneko's brother, Taro Kimura, has for decades been one of Japan's leading broadcast journalists, anchoring the NHKTV nightly news and later the Fuji TV evening news. Kimura continues to work for Fuji as a senior news analyst. He also writes weekly columns for the Tokyo Shinbun. In 1988, Kimura received the Vaughn-Ueda Prize, an award presented to journalists whose work contributes to international understanding. While Kimura is the author of 14 books in Japanese, this is his first book in English. Kimura is also the co-author of the Japanese version of Dear Gloria. He and his wife Kazuko split time between Tokyo and Hayama, a seaport where they maintain an active sailing schedule. They have two sons and several grandchildren.
Gregg Ramshaw is a Pittsburgh-based author, editor, educator, media consultant, and documentary video producer. He was a Washington correspondent and television news producer for 31 years, most of them with The News Hour on PBS. Ramshaw met Taro Kimura in 1983 when they covered President Reagan's state visit to Japan. They have been good friends and occasional business partners ever since. Dear Gloria is their latest collaboration.
To purchase Dear Gloria by Toneko Kimura Hirai & Taro Kimura, please contact our distributor, University Press of New England toll free at 1-800-421-1561 or by fax at 1-603-448-9729. The book is also available online at UPNE, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.
To request a copy for review, please contact the Carnegie Mellon University Press Editorial Offices at (412) 268-2861 or by email at CarnegieMellonUniversityPress@gmail.com.