Whatcom READS! is a community-wide reading and discussion program intended to encourage all Whatcom County residents to read the same book and create a county-wide book club experience. This year’s selection, the sixth since the program’s inception in 2008, is Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.
The novel was originally published in 1994 and became an immediate bestseller, winning 1995’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Adapted in 1999 into a film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, it was later tailored for the stage in Seattle and Portland.
Set on a fictional island in the northern Puget Sound region in 1954, Japanese American Kabuo Miyamoto is accused of killing respected fisherman Carl Heine. A trial ensues during this period of anti-Japanese sentiment, and issues of race, war, honesty, and betrayal permeate the story.
The Blaine Library will be hosting three events based on some of the book’s themes:
Friday, February 1, 2 to 5 p.m.: All ages are invited to a Japanese Culture Open House, where there will be opportunity to learn origami, the Japanese writing system katakana, simple Japanese words, and how to use chopsticks. Japanese food and tea will be available for sampling, and George Berkompas will be on hand to discuss the art of bonsai.
Saturday, February 9, at 2 p.m.: WWU Professor Emeritus Robert Keller will present the program, Reconciling the Past: The History, Literature and Ethics of Japanese Removal. As a child during World War II, Professor Keller visited Camp Harmony, a temporary internment camp in Puyallup for Japanese Americans. Later in his life, Dr. Keller lived in Germany where he saw how Germans dealt with bleak memories of the war and the holocaust. These experiences helped shape his presentation, where he asks: How do we come to terms with dark parts of our history?
Saturday, February 16, at 2 p.m.: The community is invited to participate in a lively book discussion about Snow Falling on Cedars and its themes. Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Library.
For further information on these programs and others, visit whatcomreads.org or contact the Blaine Library at 360-332-8146.