Elizabeth Miki Brina with Mira Shimabukuro
Elizabeth Miki Brina’s Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir (Knopf) is unique in its power and testament, in telling her family story, and then her own: of her mother coming from Okinawa, having met and then to marry a US veteran of the war in Vietnam. Knowing Okinawa was part of her story growing up, the growing up happened in a far-distant suburb of New York. Time and journeys - inward and outward - would be taken, making meaning, coming to terms.
“In America, we rarely inherit language for grappling with the fraught legacies of family and identity, memory and erasure, empire and occupation. But in Speak, Okinawa, Elizabeth Miki Brina bravely charts a path toward self-recognition and reconciliation, with prose so powerful and pristine it often left me hovering at the edge of tears. This is a bracing, luminous debut that will long be remembered, and long turned to for inspiration.” —Francisco Cantú.
“In Speak, Okinawa, we become immersed in the experience of Okinawa as a dual colony and understand Brina’s memories exist in that diasporic context. And as we do, we see and feel the way trauma crosses generations . . . This book mattered to me in ways I can’t articulate in this review. I really, really don’t know what else to say. And I feel a kind of unspeakable shame that I don’t. The stories mattered. The history mattered. The words mattered. ” —Mira Shimabukuro, The International Examiner.