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Unfinished Message
Selected Works of Toshio Mori

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By Toshio Mori, Introduction by Lawson Fusao Inada, Forward by Steven Y. Mori - 2000, 242 pages, paperback.

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Born in Oakland, California, in 1910, the young Toshio Mori dreamed of being an artist, a Buddhist missionary, and a baseball player. Instead, he grew flowers in the family nursery business, and--influenced by contemporaries such as Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway--produced a body of extraordinary fiction. His well-crafted, humorous, wise tales celebrate the Japanese American community he knew so well and reach beyond it to describe the essential human condition. As William Saroyan, who championed his work, once wrote: "[Toshio Mori] can see through the material image to the real thing; through a human being to the strange, comical, melancholy truth that changes a fool to a great solemn hero. With the Eye he has also the Heart. The fine heart of a true writer."

The promise of a writing career was tragically interrupted when the publication of Mori's first collection of short stories, Yokohama, California, was cancelled after the U.S. entered World War II. Mori was soon on his way from Oakland to Topaz, Utah--one of 110,000 citizens of Japanese desent held in internment camps between 1941 and 1944. When Yokohama, California was finally published in 1949, Toshio Mori was, at last, able to claim his place as "one of the most important new writers in the country" (William Saroyan).

Unfinished Message includes fifteen stories, a novella, correspondence, and an interview with Toshio Mori. Some of this material has never before been published.

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"Toshio Mori's work speaks to the mixture of two cultures: the sto-ries are fresh and Zen-like, catching the surprise and soft quirkiness of the California moment, and they also reach back to the Japanese shibai tradition of mingling folk drama and zany skits. Mori's work remains a highlight, not only of early modern California fiction, but also of an Asian American literature that has reshaped the national literary terrain." A1 Young, co-editor of The Literature of California

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Most recent revision Nov. 21, 2000