As part of Oregon’s 150th anniversary commemoration, the Oregon Library Association chose to spotlight an Oregon pioneer story, albeit one without the familiar Oregon Trail pedigree. They selected Stubborn Twig, by Eugene author Lauren Kessler.
This is Oregon’s first statewide exercise to get people around the entire state to read and talk about one book at more or less the same time. The book traces the true story of three generations of a Japanese-American family in the Pacific Northwest, beginning in 1903 when Masuo Yasui arrived in Hood River. He quickly became a prominent member of the Japanese community and a successful businessman, running a general store and several orchards, brokering land deals and labor contracts, selling life insurance and travel services — “a veritable cottage industry unto himself.”
But he faced great discrimination as anti-Japanese sentiment grew. In 1941 he was arrested as a spy and imprisoned. Many of his family members were put in internment camps. Kessler chronicles the impact on the people who lived through that time — and on the generations that followed.
Have you read Stubborn Twig? What do you think of its message about Oregon’s history? What resonates today?
Do you remember World War Two on the West Coast? Do you remember when did you first learned of the Japanese internment camps? What is it like to talk about this time now?
- Lauren Kessler: Author of Stubborn Twig and numerous other non-fiction books and director of the graduate program in literary non-fiction at the University of Oregon
- Yuka Fujikura: Youngest child of Masuo Yasui
- Bill Pattison: Fourth-generation Hood River resident and former mayor of Hood River