UNITED STATES: As part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Google Doodle honored on the 4th of May 2021 Hisaye Yamamoto. Yamamoto was one of the first Asian Americans to receive post-war national literary recognition and a life-long immigrant and women’s rights advocate against war, racism, sexism, and violence.
Hisaye Yamamoto was born in 1921 in California to a Japanese family. As they were not allowed to possess agricultural land, she attended both Japanese and American schools as they traveled around. Fond of reading and writing, Yamamoto majored in French, Spanish, German, and Latin, and at the age of 14 started writing under the name Napoleon for a daily newspaper for Japanese Californians.
In 1942, Yamamoto’s family was sent to Camp Poston, Arizona, under Executive Order 9066. There she spent three years collaborating with the internment camp newspaper the Poston Chronicle. Released in 1945, she joined the Black-owned newspaper the Los Angeles Tribune. Over the next three years, she became fully aware of the discrimination Angelo Black and Asian-American communities went through.
In 1948, the Partisan Review published her first short story “High–Heeled Shoes, A Memoir,” which dealt with sexual harassment. The same year, she abandoned journalism to become a full-time writer. In 1950, “The Legend of Miss Sasagawara” continued voicing her position against war, racism, and violence. In 1949, she won recognition from the Association for Asian American Studies for her collection “Seventeen Syllables.” The collection revealed the tension between first–generation Japanese immigrants (issei) and their Americanized children (nisei).
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Yamamoto was published in major journals such as Harper’s Bazaar, Arizona Quarterly, Carleton Miscellany, Kenyon Review, and Furioso. She also published in Asian American periodicals such as Hokkubei Mainichi and Pacific Citizen.
In 1953, she adopted a son. Upon her return to Los Angeles in 1955, she married Anthony DeSoto with whom she had four children. In 1986, Yamamoto won the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.
After suffering a stroke a year earlier, Hisaye Yamamoto died at 89 in 2011.