Award-Winning Author Naomi Hirahara to Present New Book, ‘Evergreen,’ at Lamanda Park Branch Library

Hirahara's latest novel continues exploring the post-WWII Japanese American experience through a mystery set in Los Angeles's Japantown
Published on Jun 22, 2024

Naomi Hirahara

Acclaimed author Naomi Hirahara will present her new book “Evergreen” at the Lamanda Park Branch Library in Pasadena on Saturday, July 13. The free event, sponsored by the Pasadena Public Library, will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. 

“Evergreen” is a gripping Japantown mystery that follows a young 20-something Nisei, a second-generation Japanese American woman, as she navigates the challenges of post-World War II life after returning to Los Angeles from the Manzanar incarceration camp. The novel, a sequel to Hirahara’s Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning “Clark and Division,” explores themes of justice, family, and the struggle to reclaim a sense of home after a traumatic experience.

“Both ‘Clark and Division’ and ‘Evergreen’ deal with the resettlement of Japanese Americans from their World War II detention,” Hirahara told Pasadena Now in an interview. “Many people are unaware of the challenging transition that Japanese Americans faced after being released from one of the 10 incarceration camps.”

Hirahara, a Japanese American herself, drew inspiration for the novel from her experience working as a journalist for the *Rafu Shimpo*, the largest Japanese American newspaper in the United States. During her 10 years at the publication, she interviewed many individuals who had gone through the incarceration experience, which helped her create the characters in her books. Although Hirahara’s parents were not in camp and did not live in Chicago, her work at the Rafu Shimpo provided valuable insights.

“I think one of the themes is going back to where you once lived, but things have changed,” she said. “Your situation has changed, so you have to make an adjustment, even though this one place was once home. So it is a story about people going through a traumatic experience and kind of reclaiming the place that they called home.” 

“Evergreen” also explores the interactions between Japanese Americans returning to Little Tokyo and African Americans who had moved into the area while Japanese Americans were incarcerated during the war. Hirahara hopes readers will gain a message of compassion from the novel, as it shows how these two groups, both having experienced dislocation, can work together for the larger good.

During the event at the Lamanda Park Branch Library, Hirahara will present a PowerPoint showcasing the locations featured in the book, along with visual photography, and engage in a conversation with attendees. The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session, allowing readers to delve deeper into the novel’s themes and Hirahara’s writing process.

Hirahara is currently working on her next project, “Crown City,” which is set in Pasadena in 1903 and explores the popularity of Japanese art among wealthy women during that time. The novel, part of the Japantown Mysteries series, will tell the story through a young carpenter who comes to Pasadena from Yokohama and will be released in the summer of 2025.

The “Evergreen” presentation is part of the Pasadena Public Library’s ongoing efforts to promote literary events and community engagement. The Lamanda Park Branch Library is at 140 S. Altadena Drive, Pasadena.

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