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Scrutinized!Surveillance in Asian North American Literature$
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Monica Chiu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838423

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838423.001.0001

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Intimate Details

Intimate Details

Scrutiny and Evidentiary Photographs in Kerri Sakamoto’s The Electrical Field

Chapter:
(p.96) Chapter 5 Intimate Details
Source:
Scrutinized!
Author(s):

Monica Chiu

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838423.003.0005

This chapter offers a reading of Kerri Sakamoto's novel The Electrical Field to show how she encourages a perusal of intimate details against the backdrop of a crime to urge a necessary interrogation of race and national belonging. The murders embedded in The Electrical Field present a distraction from the real crime at the novel's center, the Japanese Canadian internment. The relocation and internment of approximately 23,000 Japanese Canadians during World War II haunts the daily life of protagonist Asako Saito, whose psychological revisitations of particular insistent internment images are both a problem and a solution. This chapter examines how photographs shape experience, memory, and citizenship and explains how traumatizing flashbacks, while serving as impediments to Asako's daily routine, also work to frustrate the reader's comprehension of Sakamoto's text. It also discusses the racial politics of the incarceration of Japanese Canadians in The Electrical Field and argues that the novel's central crime is internment rather than murder.

Keywords:   Kerri Sakamoto, The Electrical Field, crime, race, Japanese Canadian internment, Japanese Canadians, photographs, trauma, racial politics

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