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Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. THE GRAVE ON THE WALL is a memoir and a book of mourning, a grandson's attempt to reconcile his own uncontested citizenship with his grandfather's lifelong struggle. Award-winning poet Brandon Shimoda has crafted a lyrical portrait of his paternal grandfather, Midori Shimoda, whose life—child migrant, talented photographer, suspected enemy alien and spy, desert wanderer, American citizen—mirrors the arc of Japanese America in the twentieth century. In a series of pilgrimages, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather, and unfolds, in the process, a moving elegy on memory and forgetting.
"If someone asked me what a poet's history might look and read like, I would say Brandon Shimoda's THE GRAVE ON THE WALL. It is part dream, part memory, part forgetting, part identity. It is a remarkable exploration of how citizenship is forged by the brutal US imperial forces—through slave labor, forced detention, indiscriminate bombing, historical amnesia and wall. If someone asked me, where are you from? I would answer, from THE GRAVE ON THE WALL."—Don Mee Choi
"Brandon Shimoda's THE GRAVE ON THE WALL begins with a sentence that cannot be read. Impossible writing: 'My grandfather had one memory of his childhood in Hiroshima: washing the feet of his grandfather's corpse.' This is a book that can't be repaired or remembered, but which conjoins itself to sub-luminous modes of loss in possible readers. Shimoda is a mystic writer. He puts what breaches itself (always) onto the page, so that the act of writing becomes akin to paper-making: an attention to fibers, coagulation, texture and the water-fire mixtures that signal irreversible alteration or change. Does this book end? Is there a sentence that closes it? Or does it keep being written and forgotten then written again, each time a reader opens it (the book) for the first time? I have never met this writer in person, and perhaps I never will, but he has written a book that touches the bottom of my own soul."—Bhanu Kapil
Brandon Shimoda was born in California. He is the author of The Alps (Flim Forum, 2008), O BON (Litmus Press, 2011), THE GIRL WITHOUT ARMS (Black Ocean, 2011), PORTUGUESE (Octopus Books, 2014), and EVENING ORACLE (Letter Machine Editions, 2015), which received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and THE DESERT (The Song Cave, 2018). He also co-edited (with Thom Donovan) To Look At The Sea Is To Become What One Is: An Etel Adnan Reader (Nightboat Books, 2014). He lives in the desert.Author City: NOWHERE USA