USJC President & CEO Suzanne Basalla: USJC Reads

This is a series in which USJC President & CEO Suzanne Basalla shares her thoughts directly with the USJC community.

Today’s note is about one of my favorite topics — books!  

First, I want to announce our first “USJC Reads” title, Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of Japanese American Incarceration, by Friend of the Council Shirley Higuchi.

I learned about Setsuko’s Secret because Irene Hirano Inouye had been part of the author’s journey, and Irene had written the book’s afterword. Sadly Irene passed away before she and Shirley could hold their planned book launch event together. I read the book with great interest, and attended other book events hosted by and featuring other USJC leaders, including Norman Mineta. So I am pleased to announce USJC will hold its own book talk with the author and with Council Leader David Ono on May 27. We’ll hear more about this intergenerational tale of discovery, the social justice reverberations of incarceration, and the details of the Heart Mountain experience. It’s a timely topic for AAPI Heritage Month and in light of the important conversations today about social justice. Please join others in USJC in reading the book and joining the conversation.

I have other recently published and USJC-related books on my bedside table or on my radar:

Our network has a few youth books out as well:

  • Kudo Kids: Mystery in Manhattan, by Maia and Alex Shibutani, two of the Japanese American “stars” that were part of the 2019 Annual Conference. This is part of a series.
  • Thank You Very Mochi, published in 2016 by Associate member Craig Ishii. 
  • They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, member of the Board of Councilors.
  • Japan in DC, featuring articles written by alumni of the TOMODACHI U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program 

I’m also thrilled to hear that our Japan Regional members, led by Eriko Stronach (ELP ‘20), have launched a Book Club. I hope other regions and affinity groups will consider their own book clubs. 

And when I think of USJC and books, I think of John Onoda, member of the Board of Councilors, and his Dozen Best Books website, which appeals to both my inner bookworm and list maker. I encourage you to join and help improve the Books about Japan list by adding your own suggestions and votes.

If you read this note and think, “Wait! You left out a book…” then please write to us at [email protected]. I’d love to learn more about you all through books you’ve written, edited, and recommended!