December 2, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Mariko Nagai: Born in Japan, made in America

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Although born in Japan, Mariko Nagai, author of the just-published novel-in-verse “Dust of Eden,” was raised mostly in Belgium and the United States: The Japan Times

MARIKO-NAGAI“I grew up all over the world because of my father’s job,” she says. “First in Belgium, where I spoke Flemish then French, then back in Japan where I learned Japanese at age 5. Then, when I was 8, we moved to San Francisco, where I learned English by reading street signs and with the help of librarians.”

Later, her family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she attended a public school that was “95 percent white,” and where there were “close to zero immigrants and foreigners.”

“No one around me could understand why I wasn’t an American citizen even though I spoke English fluently,” she recalls. “You could say that I grew up confused about language, home, identity and God.”

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