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Hiroshima in the Morning Paperback – September 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“A brave compassionate, and heart-wrenching memoir, of one woman’s quest to redeem the past while learning to live fully in the present.”

Kate Moses, author of Cakewalk, A Memoir and Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath

"This searing and redemptive memoir is an explosive account of motherhood reconstructed."

Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road

"This book is an important contribution to the growing understanding that we are all part of history, and we all make history. A moving account of a contemporary voyage, which is also a voyage back in time, reckoning with and bearing witness to one of the great tragedies of the last century."

Susan Griffin, author of A Chorus of Stones

"If remembering lies at the heart of all memoir, the best memoir goes far deeper, asking questions about the propulsive nature of time, the consequences of forgetting, and the treacherous liberations of solitude. Hiroshima in the Morning is a memoir of the most sophisticated kind, a lyric, a quest, a universal poem."

Beth Kephart, author of A Slant of Sun, a National Book Award finalist

"Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's new book is intimate and global, lyrical and clear-eyed, a compelling personal narrative, and an important social document. Here past and present, Hiroshima and 9/11, interweave to tell a story of unendurable loss and tragedy but also of tenacity, survival, and rebirth"

Lauren Kessler, author of Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family

About the Author

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto: Rahna Reiko Rizzuto’s highly acclaimed first novel, Why She Left Us, won an American Book Award in 2000, and was praised by the New York Times as “ambitious, lyrical, and intriguing.” She is a recipient of the US/Japan Creative Artist Fellowship, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which inspired her memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning; she is also the associate editor of The NuyorAsian Anthology: Asian American Writings About New York City; and she is a faculty member in the MFA in creative writing program at Goddard College where she teaches fiction and nonfiction. Her essays and short stories have appeared in journals and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and the Crab Creek Review, and in anthologies including Mothers Who Think, Because I Said So, and Topography of War. Rizzuto is half-Japanese/half-Caucasian. She grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii and now lives in Brooklyn.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558616675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558616677
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,292,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning, is a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award, and is the winner of the Grub Street National Book Award in Nonfiction. It is published by the Feminist Press. Her first novel, Why She Left Us, won an American Book Award in 2000. She is also a recipient of the U.S./Japan Creative Artist Fellowship, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the L.A. Times and Salon. She was Associate Editor of The NuyorAsian Anthology: Asian American Writings About New York City, and teaches in the MFA program for creative writing at Goddard College.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By mika on January 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am Japanese who lives in Japan. I teach English to adult Japanese and I also have done many translations of the testimonies of the atomic bomb survivors, and taken English speakers on tours of the Peace Park in Hiroshima. This book, which is aiming to tell people about one of the most horrific historical war events in history, Hiroshima, is clearly a very well-written and well-arranged one. I especially like the way that each testimony is NOT too long, but very decisive and truthful. And what is even better is that each story comes with backed-up stories and events which the author has experienced during her residency in Hiroshima.

What, I think, is "VERY UNIQUE" about this book is that there are a lot of facts that can be used as excerpts in my classes. Many of my students are to become professional translators or travel guides. And those facts include many of those little things we Japanese need to know when we want to explain HIROSHIMA, JAPANESE CULTURE, and JAPANESE PEOPLE in English. They are described in very colorful and enjoyable-to-read ways.

As a wife, a mother, and a daughter myself, I can also totally understand all the agonies, frustrations, and the sorrows that the author went through. I believe that THAT can be one other big attraction that this book has to a lot of people.

I highly recommend this book to anybody, but especially to those who are teaching English to Japanese, those non-Japanese who are learning anything about Japanese culture and Hiroshima.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Minerva9544 on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book had so much potential, but either the author or the editor let it slip away. The premise of the story is that the author has recived a fellowship to interview survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima, she packs up her life, leaving behind two small children and her husband, to live in Japan for six months gathering information. After the initial "stranger in a strage land" bit it starts to unravel by becoming three narratives that are clumsily interwoven leaving each without the attention it deserves. First, this is the story of a women solely defined as a wife and mother who has never been on her own. It is her great moment of autonomy and self discovery that ultimatley leads to uncomfortable revalations. Secondly, it is the story of a researcher who is having trouble connecting to her subjects until the tragedy of 9/11 draws them together in commiseration over events that are both a private and public trauma. And finally it is the story of a woman metaphorically searching for the mother she is slowly losing to dimentia/alzheimers. These are pretty ambitious topics to cover individually, but trying to bring them together to form a cohesive story was far beyond the scope and ability of the author/editor. Is it worth a read, yes. Is it a great book that will change your life, no.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ron Wootengreen on July 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
Much is written here about Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's book "Hiroshima in the Morning" detailing its thrust and theme, but even more regarding praise, ridicule, and legitimate criticism of both book and author. What follows here is more of a review of the reviews, a criticism of the criticism, than a review of the book; however, there will be some of the latter.
A common criticism has much more to do with the author than the book, namely that she is a bad mother, a bad wife for "abandoning" her children. Now all I have to go on is what I read in the book, where it seems to me she clarified the situation in the very beginning at the second page of the Prologue. She notes that her husband Brian asked her "Why are you going to Japan?" She goes on at the very next page to say, "He was the one who urged me to apply" for the grant to spend six months in Japan. Furthermore, on the next page she recalls, "Brian had plenty of help with the children. And, he himself pointed this out, he had always promised to be their primary caretaker, so he owed me a chunk of time."
It appears Rahna took him at his word, that he could handle the situation for the six months and that he would support her. It also appears, as we read on, that when reality set in, and did so very soon, the promises were without meaning.
No, for those who claim this mother abandoned her children, there is a serious disconnect with reality on their part. Rahna went to Japan to fulfill her commitment upon receiving a grant/fellowship, which Brian had urged her to seek. She had put her children in the caring hands of her husband, the children's father.
Yes, the usual deal is that it is the husband/father who takes off days, weeks, months at a time to do research, follow up on company business, etc.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Knight on September 16, 2014
Format: Paperback
It's hard to put into words the disgust I felt reading this book. What I wanted (and thought I was getting when I bought this) was the story of survivors of the atomic bombing mixed with a New York woman's experiences collecting those stories while her family back home dealt with 9/11. What I actually got was a whiney, poor me, self-centered tale from a woman who I don't think really cared at all about the bombing victims.

For a book that is supposed to be focused on the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and the survivors, there's very little of that in here. Maybe 30%. We do get some survivors stories (which are powerful). But they're chopped down/edited until they run a page or less. Even Lily's story, which the author claims is one of the most important she collected in only a few pages (and is really more about the author's experience listening to the story than the story itself).

Most of this book is the author talking about her trip to Japan (she hates it/is lonely then loves it (possibly more than her family). It details her relationship with her husband (as it falls apart) and her relationship with her children (which I have to say shows her in a terrible light...though I still don't see the point of the potty story (which lasted for three pages)).

There's also a weird, meandering thought process about the author's mother. I don't know what the point of it was or why it was included at all.

And to top it off, there's a ton of words in Japanese in this book (which is great!) except that the author never bothers to actually tell you what most of them mean. It's hard to get into a story about her family enjoying a meal when you have no idea what they're eating or why it's a problem for her kids.
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