The Afterlife Is Letting Go (Paperback)

The Afterlife Is Letting Go By Brandon Shimoda Cover Image

The Afterlife Is Letting Go (Paperback)

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A memoiristic travelogue that illuminates the enduring legacy of the mass incarceration of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans during World War II.

In a series of reflective, multi-layered, and sometimes multi-voiced essays, poet Brandon Shimoda explores the "afterlife" of the U.S. government's forced removal and mass incarceration of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans during WWII, excavating the ways these events continue to resonate today--in storytelling and silence, in literature and art, in legislation and protest. What emerges is a panoramic, yet intimate portrait of intergenerational trauma and healing.


This is a book about memory, how we remember and how we forget, and how remembering often takes the form of forgetting. Shimoda attempts to answer this pivotal question (posed by Christina Sharpe, in her influential work): How do we memorialize an event that is still ongoing? Informed by personal/familial history, years of research and travel, including visits to museums, memorials and the ruins of incarceration sites, these essays take us on both a physical and a metaphysical journey. What becomes increasingly clear are the infinite connections between the treatment of Japanese Americans and other forms of oppression, criminalization, dispossession, and state violence enacted by the United States, past, present, and ongoing.

Held together throughout by excerpts from interviews, conversations, and correspondence with over 200 descendants of people who were incarcerated, this is also a book about community, as well as a tribute to it.


Brandon Shimoda is a 2020 Whiting Fellow, and the author of several books of poetry and prose, including Hydra Medusa (Nightboat Books, 2023), The Grave on the Wall (City Lights, 2019), which received the PEN Open Book Award, and Evening Oracle (Letter Machine Editions, 2015), which received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is also the co-editor of To look at the sea is to become what one is: An Etel Adnan Reader (Nightboat Books, 2014) and an anthology of poetry on WWII Nikkei incarceration (forthcoming from Haymarket Books in 2025). He currently lives in Colorado Springs and teaches at Colorado College.
Product Details ISBN: 9780872869295
ISBN-10: 0872869296
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publication Date: December 10th, 2024
Pages: 232
Language: English