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Author recounts WWII internment experience

Unlike many of her fellow internees, Kiyo Sato is willing to discuss her family’s experience during World War II.

For years, she has spoken to students, church groups and other gatherings about how a frightened nation looking for scapegoats in the hysteria after Pearl Harbor resulted in 120,000 of its Japanese-American residents – most of them American citizens – being thrown into heavily guarded camps in remote and desolate places such as Poston, Ariz.

“I believe in everybody talking about it,” Sato told the Sacramento Bee in 2007. “I don’t think it’s something you forget.”

In 2007, she wrote an eloquent memoir, “Dandelion Through the Crack.” In its latest edition, the book is titled “Kiyo’s Story: A Japanese-American Family’s Quest for the American Dream.” It won the 2008 William Saroyan Prize for Nonfiction.

Sato will visit CSU Monterey Bay on Nov. 7 to talk about her life growing up in California, being swept off to an internment camp as an 18-year-old student at Sacramento Junior College, and ultimately surviving and succeeding despite terrible odds and oppressive prejudice.

Her talk will start at 6 p.m. in the University Center living room. The public is invited to this free event.

Sato mulled over the idea of writing a book for four decades, taking the occasional writing class. It wasn’t until 2003 that she decided to do it. She told the Bee that she sees the book as a way to make sure the forced internment of Americans never happens again.

Driving directions and a campus map can be found here. "It is a magnificent memoir, fully worthy of being compared to Farewell to Manzanar. I cannot praise its pointillist realism, its Zen-like austerity, highly enough. Exquisite."

*– Kevin Starr, author of California: A History*