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      William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

Kiyo Sato

Dandelion Through the Crack

About the Author

Kiyo Sato was born in Sacramento, California, in 1923, to Shinji and Tomomi Sato, immigrants from Japan. Kiyo received a B.S. from Hillsdale College and a Master's in Nursing from Western Reserve University. Ms. Sato rose to the rank of Captain in the USAF Nurse Corps, and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Nisei Post 8985, in Sacramento. During her career as a public health nurse, a school nurse, and a nurse in private practice, Kiyo developed the award-winning Blackbird Vision Screening System for detecting eye problems in young children.

About the Book

Dandelion Through the Crack: The Sato Family Quest for the American Dream tells of a real Japanese-American family, formed both by ancestry and by the American way of life. We see mother, father, and children, and their challenges over seven decades. There are the extraordinary times of the Depression, wartime emergency, internment in Poston Camp II in the Arizona desert, oppressive prejudice, and the struggle to recover from near-total loss. But there are also many simple, almost-pastoral moments. The wise fables of the author's father -- tales of his old and new homelands and his haiku poetry -- are interwoven throughout. This is Kiyo Sato's first-person account of the family's struggles and triumphs. The result is a work of literary grace, emotional power, and historical and social importance.

Critics / Reviews

It is a magnificent memoir, fully worthy of being favorably compared to Farewell to Manzanar. I cannot praise its pointillist realism, its Zen-like austerity highly enough. Exquisite."
— Dr. Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California

Sato has now produced a poignant, insightful, and, in parts, poetic account of her and the Sato family’s struggles and triumphs, that in many ways is metaphoric of the Issei and Nisei experiences "before," during, and "after" World War II.

Each chapter begins with one of her father’s austere haiku poems. Sato skillfully weaves "story," history, and memories into a highly readable and accessible memoir of her family’s journey, survival, and finally a sense of place in this fabled land—America"
— Wayne Maeda, Nichi Bei Times

This is an important story that should be told and retold to future generations, because history has shown that it only takes a generation to forget. Kiyo tells the story with great insight, heart and humanity."
— Steve LaRosa, public television producer (KVIE, Sacramento, CA)

I hope Dandelion Through the Crack is widely read and noted. Taken simply as a family chronicle, it is moving and graceful. But it is also a powerful, thought-provoking historical document, which dramatizes important changes in California and the United States as a whole."
— James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly


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