Porter Square Books is delighted to welcome Mako Yoshikawa for the release of her memoir Secrets of the Sun! Author Daphne Kalotay will join Yoshikawa in conversation. This event will take place on Thursday, February 15 at 7pm at Porter Square Books (25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140).
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Mako Yoshikawa’s father, Shoichi, was a man of contradictions. He grew up fabulously wealthy in prewar Japan but spent his final years living in squalor; he was a proper Japanese man who craved society’s approval yet cross-dressed; he was a brilliant Princeton University physicist and renowned nuclear fusion researcher, yet his career withered as his severe bipolar disorder tightened its grip. And despite his generosity and charisma, he was often violent and cruel toward those closest to him. Yoshikawa adored him, feared him, and eventually cut him out of her life, but after he died, she was driven to try to understand this extraordinarily complex man. In Secrets of the Sun, her search takes her through everything from the Asian American experience of racism to her father’s dedication to fusion energy research, from mental illness to the treatment of women in Japan, and more. Yoshikawa gradually discovers a life filled with secrets, searching until someone from her father’s past at last provides the missing piece in her knowledge: the story of his childhood. Secrets of the Sun is about a daughter’s mission to uncover her father’s secrets and to find closure in the shadow of genius, mental illness, and violence.
Mako Yoshikawa’s first novel, One Hundred and One Ways, was a national bestseller; it was translated into six languages. Her second novel, Once Removed, has also been translated. The novels have received critical acclaim and coverage in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Time Out, among other publications. Awards for Mako’s writing include a Bunting Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant. As a literary critic, she has published articles that explore the relationship between incest and race in 20th-century American fiction.
After her father’s death in 2010, Mako began writing about him and their relationship: essays which have appeared in the Missouri Review, Southern Indiana Review, Harvard Review, Story, Lit Hub, Longreads, and Best American Essays. These essays became the basis for Secrets of the Sun.
Mako is a professor of creative writing and the director of the MFA program at Emerson College. She lives with her husband and two unruly cats in Boston and Baltimore.
Published in 20+ languages, Daphne Kalotay’s books include the award-winning novels Sight Reading, Russian Winter and Blue Hours, and two story collections: The Archivists, winner of the Grace Paley Prize, and Calamity and Other Stories, shortlisted for The Story Prize. A recipient of fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, MacDowell, and Yaddo, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she is a Special Program Instructor in the Masters in Creative Writing and Literature Program at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education.
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