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Sample from Camp Nine: A Novel by Vivienne Schiffer

Sample from Camp Nine: A Novel by Vivienne Schiffer

Ratings: (0)|Views: 293 |Likes:
“Camp Nine beautifully captures a sense of time and place that resonates with authenticity. It shows an intimate familiarity with the internment camp at Rohwer—how the camp came to be situated in such a remote part of Arkansas, life within the camp, and the feelings of the Japanese Americans held captive there, as well as what life was like in the 1940s for the locals outside. It is a perspective that has never been presented. I love this book and recommend it as a must-read.”
—Delphine Hirasuna, author of The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942 – 1946

http://www.uapress.com/titles/fa11/schiffer.html
“Camp Nine beautifully captures a sense of time and place that resonates with authenticity. It shows an intimate familiarity with the internment camp at Rohwer—how the camp came to be situated in such a remote part of Arkansas, life within the camp, and the feelings of the Japanese Americans held captive there, as well as what life was like in the 1940s for the locals outside. It is a perspective that has never been presented. I love this book and recommend it as a must-read.”
—Delphine Hirasuna, author of The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942 – 1946

http://www.uapress.com/titles/fa11/schiffer.html

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Published by: University of Arkansas Press on Sep 13, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/27/2013

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 with the white block letters “MP.” On the side of the highway, a sol-dier restrained a German shepherd tugging at its leash and pacingin the black-eyed Susans. Its companion waited placidly in the grass,bright-eyed and panting.Our car idled at the blockade. The train rounded the corner of the woods and sounded its whistle again. It took only a moment forme to understand that it was the German prisoners of war and they  were arriving in Rook that very minute.I could tell that Mother was frightened. She said nothing, butgripped the steering wheel with her white gloves as if she were afraidthat it might escape her. As the train pulled alongside us, one of thesoldiers standing in the road noticed us waiting. He shifted his gunin his hands and walked our way.The old, wooden train opposite us was unlike the sleek, silverones that came through every morning and night. Each railcar hadnumbers stamped along its side, and the decrepit wheels creakedand complained as they slowed near the entrance to Camp Nine.Despite the searing heat, all of the window shades were lowered.As the soldier approached and tipped his hat, Mother leanedher head from the window.“Afternoon, ma’am.”“Good afternoon, sir.”He peered inside, but there was nothing to see but me, sittingin the front seat. “Sorry for the delay, ma’am, but this highway willbe blocked for some time.”Mother pried her right hand from the wheel and pointed herfinger past the store to our house. “I live just over there. I’m bringingmy little girl home from school, and I would appreciate it if you would let us through.” She pointed again to emphasize her intent.“I’m anxious to get my daughter home. She’s taken ill.”I’d never known my mother to lie, and I was delighted to hearthe fib slip so easily from her lips. I dug myself down into the seatand squinted my eyes to give credence to her story.
20 Vivienne Schiffer
 
The soldier took his time looking me over. Thinking back now,I realize he was no more than eighteen or nineteen years old—ababy—and from God knows where. What had he thought of us thosemany years ago, that fresh-faced boy from Montana or Wyoming orOhio, someplace where people speak flatly and without inflection?He was probably just as bewildered as I was, thrust into a strangeand foreign land that existed within the borders of his own country.He discharged the duty of his pointless inspection, then straight-ened, and abruptly left to confer with his colleagues.The train, now stopped, sounded its whistle twice, and at that,all of the window shades opened at the same time. Startled, I sat upstraight, craning to look. I’d never before seen either a German ora prisoner, and I was anxious to see both at once. Emboldened by the safety of our car, I hoped secretly that some ragged and dis-graced enemy of freedom might make a mad dash to escape, just soI would see how fast the dogs could run.A face appeared in the train window opposite my car door, closeenough almost to touch. But it wasn’t a German soldier. It was only a child, younger even than I. In that brief moment that it took meto realize that she looked Chinese, the windows filled with whatappeared to be Chinese families, mothers, fathers, and children,packed tightly into the train, tired and worried, all fighting for thechance to look out the window at our Buick and our house and ourlittle town.And me.They looked without speaking, wide-eyed, at the tall grass grow-ing alongside the track and the sign that sprouted from it thatannounced their destination: “Rook, pop. 86.”Mother’s hands slipped from the wheel. Her eyes narrowed andher mouth assumed the position of words, but none came.The soldier had returned and was talking to her through theopen window.“Ma’am?” he repeated.
Camp Nine21

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