May 30 2021
Displacement, by Kiku Hughes
Author: Kiku Hughes
Genre/ issues: Historical fiction. Timeslip. Japanese internment during WW2.
I was in my early 20s when I learned about the internment of Japanese people in Australia during WWII, and only by accident, after my Canadian literature lecturer at uni gave me Obasan by Joy Kogawa to read. I read it in horror, appalled at the way Canada had treated their Japanese residents, and then even moreso when I learned the extent of this experience in my own country. How did I get through my whole school life and not learn about this? Obasan and its sequel Itsuka became the focus of my honours thesis, and still remain influential texts for me, as I often reflect on the impact of major cultural and world events on individuals, particularly children.
Displacement, by Kiku Hughes, examines this dark piece of history in the USA through the lens of Kiku, a teenager growing up in a world punctuated by Trump speeches and growing racial unrest. After visiting her grandmother’s home in San Francisco, she gets caught up in a fog and is transported back in time to the 1940’s Japanese American internment camp where her grandmother is being forcibly relocated with her family. Kiku is stuck, and witnesses the lives of people who were denied their civil liberties by their own government but still created a sense of community by and committed acts of resistance to survive. Beautifully illustrated and compelling written, this graphic novel captures the significant and ongoing impact of generational trauma, and the importance of continuing to fight for civil and human rights for all. A really powerful read about significant historical events, sensitively told and suitable for upper primary and high school readers – or adults who are smart enough to know that graphic novels for younger readers are worth their time.