Talking to High Monks in the Snow: An Asian American Odyssey

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9780060168094: Talking to High Monks in the Snow: An Asian American Odyssey

Winner of the 1991 PEN/Jerard Fund Award, Talking to High Monks in the Snow captures the passion and intensity of an Asian-American woman's search for cultural identity.

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From the Back Cover:

In a voice at once penetrating and humorous, vulnerable and wise, Lydia Minatoya takes us on an evocative exploration of cultural identity that starts with her childhood of ethnic isolation in upstate New York in the fifties, as she listens to her parents' astonishing and affecting tales of her Japanese heritage. These stories of the silk-and-shadow world of a samurai family, of immigration and internment, and of spiritual transcendence later propel her outward on her own geographic and emotional journey--from patrician New England to Japan, China, and Nepal--in a search to understand her Asian-ness and its place in a complex American identity.

Review:

The lyrical title of this autobiography is a prelude to the gentle writings of Lydia Minatoya. Born in the 1950s in the United States and raised as part of a generation used to having its way, she is eventually fired from an unfulfilling teaching position and finds a freedom she's never allowed herself. With a carefully planned itinerary she leaves the United States to travel and teach in Asia and to visit her relatives in Japan. Though her Japanese ancestry opens doors in Asia, it also creates confusion. She comes to understand why her mother was reluctant to let her daughter travel to Japan and be subjected to the expectations of her heritage. She describes her life as "Taking detours, I pause here and there to sample the hospitality of strangers. Wondering, Is this where I belong? But I always return to my road, wanting to find home, before the darkness falls." In her travels she learns of a force called grace, the presence of ghosts, the power of trust and risk. Eventually her road leads her back to the United States with a new confidence. Lydia Minatoya is not interested in competing or comparing herself with others. She takes to heart each lesson, each adventure, which together provide the stepping stones for her self-discovery. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Holly Smith

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Minatoya, Lydia
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