Yoji Yamaguchi Face of a Stranger: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780060927332

Face of a Stranger: A Novel

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9780060927332: Face of a Stranger: A Novel

Set in a California town in the early part of the century, Face of a Stranger tells the story of Kikue and Shino, two Japanese picture brides who came to America in arranged marriages only to discover upon their arrival that they had been duped into lives of prostitution.

Both women are jarred when they encounter Takashi Arai, a young migrant worker and indolent rake, certain that they recognize him as the bogus groom in the photograph used to deceive them. Even as they scheme to buy their freedom from their pimp, they begin plotting revenge against Arai with the help of Hana, a beautiful girl who might be insane, the hapless farmer Kogoro Doi and the unwitting Inadas, two zealous Christian converts. A sly, farcical tale of dissembling, revenge and mistaken identity, Face of a Stranger marks the remarkable debut of a writer of uncommon brilliance.

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From the Publisher:

A sly, hilarious first novel by a young Japanese-American writer about love, revenge, and mistaken identity.

From Publishers Weekly:

Set in an early-20th century California city with a large Japanese immigrant community, this first novel has some memorable and characters and authentic touches, but Yamaguchi attempts one too many plot twists. Kikue and Shino, prostitutes indentured to Kato, the local strong man, are surprised one night when they encounter "vain, handsome Takashi Arai," whom each recognizes as the man whose photograph and putative marriage proposal lured her to America years earlier. Before the night is over, Kikue concocts a plot to exact revenge on him and, in the process, buy her freedom from Kato. Takashi is many things-a raconteur, a deadbeat, a gambler-but a pimp he isn't. Some years earlier, an old man conned him out of a snapshot of himself, and, ever since, prostitutes have recognized him as their intended. Other people become involved in Kikue's plot-Kato's goon; a group of evangelical Christians; an illiterate farmer; and a beautiful and elusive young woman. Yamaguchi does a fine job of evoking "China Alley," the marginal neighborhood (named for a previous wave of immigrants) in which his Japanese characters live. Often, however, the prose is stilted, even dated, bestowing an awkwardly formal rhythm on a story of mostly comic, earthy fare. In the end, Kikue's scheme to get even with Takashi is neither convincing nor compelling, concluding in a rushed ending and a throwaway punch line.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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