History of my novel, Friday 10:03 (Part 5)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

(This will make more sense by beginning with Part 1.)

Although justice, redemption, prisons, and the death penalty helped launch the musings that became Friday 10:03, several other themes animated my thinking, as well. In 1962, my aunt and uncle returned from two years in the Congo, and my aunt worked her way up to be International President of Laubach Literacy, overseeing adult literacy programs in sixty countries. We began to have African and South East Asian guests at our holiday gatherings. I began to take French. I became fascinated by the United States-as-melting-pot, just as that theory was about to fall out of fashion and be replaced with the U.S.-as-salad-bowl. In high school, I wrote a poem, “O’Henry’s Chinese Diner/Serves pizza on the go./Mrs. Schwartz, the hula dancer/Brings crowds to see the show.” A reader who looked at my murder mystery commented, “The cast of characters reads like roll call at the United Nations.” It’s still a tendency I have to consciously tone down. But it is also true to the life I have lived.

Majoring in history, I became interested in migrations of people, and how conflicts or adaptations occurred when cultures bumped up against each other. I read a lot of Carey McWilliams, who wrote during the 1930’s and 40’s about non-English-speaking immigrants and race relations in California. For a ‘History of Mexico’ class, I researched Japanese and Chinese immigration into Mexico. For ‘History of South America’, I wrote on Japanese living in Peru and Brazil. As a series of independent study projects, I wrote what was then the longest treatment in the English Language on the communities of Chinese living in Europe. I took a year of Japanese, and volunteered as an English tutor for new arrivals in Chinatown.

What makes for successful immigration? What are its pitfalls? In what ways do identities change during immigration? What forces impede those changes? And to bringing this back to Friday 10:03 and my other thinking: How often do our prisons serve as dust bins for the shards of immigration failures?

(Go to Part 6)

1 comments:

This is beginning to sound like a hugely ambitious plot--which is very cool because of your background. My feelings are that when an author tackles a work with multiple issues, be it historical or technical, authenticity is a must. Sounds like yours will definitely have it.

Nicole said...
January 7, 2008 at 9:36 AM  

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