Cynthia Kadohata American Literature Analysis
In her first four novels, Kadohata’s fiction takes the reader along on a journey that is narrated by a young woman who is growing up in a world that appears slightly alien to her and her immediate family and friends. What has made her first and fourth novel so effective is the fact that this strange outside world is, in fact, a part of American society but as seen from the unique angle of a Japanese American girl in the late 1950’s. When this outside world becomes the future, or even an alien planet, as Kadohata made it for her second and third novels, readers lost interest.
Stylistically, the first-person narratives of Kadohata’s novels have a strong episodic character. This may have its roots in the author’s earliest writings in the field of journalism and the genre of the short story. While her episodic structure worked well for The Floating World, the lack of a clear plot was seen as one of the weaknesses of her second work, In the Heart of the Valley of Love. Ostensibly a fantasy quest story, the narrative of The Glass Mountains still contains many episodic interludes. With Kira-Kira, Kadohata’s story of two young sisters, the narrative strikes an effective balance of uniting individual episodes within the framework of a powerful plot moving toward a dramatic climax. Critics have suggested that Kadohata’s sense of plotting improved from her work on screenplays during the 1990’s.
(The entire section is 2583 words.)
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