No No- Boy by John Okada  (1956) was the first novel by a Japanese American dealing with the Japanese internment camps in America after the bombing of Pearl harbour. The book was not well received by the Japanese  American community initially. It dealt with issues like racism and army drafting.

The novel centres around a Japanese American who refused to draft for the second World War by pledging loyalty to the Emperor Hirohito backed by the allied troops and to fight against those that “misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest”.

It was so hard for Okada to find a publisher in America that he published in Japan in 1956 with a Japanese English language publisher. In 1971, CARP ( Combined Asian-American Resources Project) found the book  and republished it. Now a copyright controversy rages between the University of Washington professor Shawn Wong  ,who republished the book in 1976 for CARP and Penguin. Penguin recently republished the book in May 2019 as part of a series featuring Asian American writing. Penguin claims that as the book was never registered in America, it has no copyright protection in USA, where it sells well and is taught as part of university curriculum.

An interesting and racy novel, say Monideepa Sahu

Nazi Goreng 23Nazi Goreng by Marco Ferrarese (Monsoon books: Singapore), 2013; pp. 304

Marco Ferrarese’ exciting and engrossing novel explores racial animosity and urban crime. Steeped in local colour, this very Malaysian story has wider relevance in today’s world of the global village. Urban conglomerates the world over are rapidly becoming cultural melting pots. People are migrating to far corners of their country and abroad in search of a better job and life. This trend can heighten the insecurity of indigenous populations, who feel threatened as they perceive outsiders to be vying with them for finite resources and jobs. Urban crime and racial tensions are the inevitable result.

Foreigners migrate to Malaysia in search of a better life. Even educated people like Ngoc and her friends leave their home in Vietnam.   The math is simple but compelling. In a corporate office in Vietnam, Ngoc ‘s university degree in Economics will fetch her only half the pay that she earns as a waitress in Malaysia.  The author perceives Malaysia’s multi-racial and multicultural society as akin to the wholesome local dish, nasi goreng, which is a delicious mix of varied and nutritious ingredients. The book’s title is a play on this, and the racial bigotry which can ruin the beautiful cultural symphony.