Some of you know that seven years ago I wrote a book called “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946,” published by Ten Speed Press/Random House. As usual, it was designed by Kit Hinrichs (Kit’s origami flag assemblage below) and photographed by Terry Heffernan. After more than 30 years as a corporate writer, I suddenly found myself propelled in another direction and immersed in a subject that I largely avoided my entire life. Although I had no thought that it would make a good art exhibition, I began receiving requests from museums across the U.S. and the array of objects made from scrap and found materials by people imprisoned in the camps were exhibited in some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. and the International Folk Art Museum of Santa Fe. Today it opens at the University Art Museum (Geidai) in Tokyo to kick off a one-year tour of Japanese cities. If you are in Japan, I hope you’ll take the time to see it. I’ll be back in my San Francisco office next week with more new posts. — Delphine
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As told by Delphine, the author
The adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover [jacket]” is only partly true. It’s not for lack of trying. The look of a book cover jacket is an important aspect of market positioning. It is what first catches the attention of retail buyers at major book fairs, reviewers and readers. It can persuade bookstores to display your book more prominently or, at least, give it more than “spine-out” (where only the spine title is visible) shelf space. It can also give readers a sense of the genre, subject and tone of the content. And, for the sake of truth in advertising, it shouldn’t over promise or under promise what the reader will find inside.
In the case of my book, “The Art of Gaman,” published by Ten Speed Press in 2005, coming up with the book title and cover jacket design proved as hard as developing the content for the book. The subject of “Art of Gaman” was fairly straightforward. It featured arts and crafts made by the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from the West Coast after Pearl Harbor and imprisoned in internment camps for the duration of World War II. Since they were only given a week to settle their affairs and only allowed to take what they could carry, the objects they made in camp were largely fashioned from scrap and found materials. Tossed and forgotten in storage sheds and attics, most of the objects had never been shown in public until I started asking friends and family who had been in camp what they had saved.
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