What the Reviews Said PDF Print E-mail

What the Reviews Said



A tale full of vivid movement and fresh insight.
Los Angeles Times Book Review


"[What the Scarecrow Said ] is a success on all levels...The author has done an admirable job mixing his own, obviously prodigious research into an exciting, compelling story that turns on one of the most shameful events in American history." - Portland Oregonian

"[Ikeda’s] perceptive and moving first novel provides a fresh perspective to the body of literature about Japanese Americans during World War II...This is a novel ambitious in its historical scope and touching in its sensitive depiction of the human tragedy and the sometimes superhuman grace of being able to forgive." - San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle – "Editors Recommendation"

"If your book groups ‘loved’ Snow Falling on Cedars (as mine did), and found it a means to learn and talk about the historical injustices of our World War II treatment of Japanese Americans, you may want to think of What the Scarecrow Said as a sequel-that-is-better-than-the-original...Guterson describes acts of bigotry; Ikeda’s characters experience, and transcend, racism in their daily lives. [Ikeda’s] sensitive rendering of three successive generations conveys both what is universal and what is particular to the Japanese American community." - Friends Journal

"This rich and multilayered...rewarding first novel provides satisfying entertainment while examining a distressing period in American history. Recommended for most fiction collections." - Library Journal

"A remarkable first novel...Powerful and unforgettable. Stewart Ikeda has looked long into the bleak moment and seen its horrors, but out of that time he has written a moving and tender novel about extreme courage." - Ann Arbor Observer

Partial Media List

A. Magazine | Ann Arbor Observer | Asian Journal | Berkeley AAirtime Radio | Chicago Shimbun | Confrontation | Contra Costa Times | East Bay Area Express Literary Supplement | Explanasian | Fiction Digest | Friends Journal | Hokubei Mainichi | Kalamazoo Gazette | Kirkus Reviews | L.A. Times | Library Journal | Madison Capitol Times | Madison Isthmus | Madison WISC-TV 3 | Madison WORT Radio | Main Line Today | Milwaukee Sentinel & Journal | Nichibei Times | Nikkeiwest | Oxford University Press Review | Pacific Citizen | Pasadena Presbyterian Clarion | Pasadena KPCC Public Radio | Portland Oregonian | Publishers Weekly | Rafu Shimpo | San Antonio Express | San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner | Seattle Public Library Newsletter | Ten Magazine | Transpacific | University of Wisconsin Bridges | Washington DC City Paper | Weekly Standard | Wisconsin State Journal


"What the Scarecrow Said lives up to the best tradition of the historical novel. This is a good summer read that lingers long after the covers close." - San Antonio Express News [Full-Site Down]

"This generous story of psychological healing–eschewing both the traditionally heroic treatment of the time and a revisionist, damning one–provides a version of wartime life that may be as true as any." - Publisher’s Weekly

"Ikeda’s novel is not merely a dramatization of history. A skillful storyteller...Ikeda provides a novel that, while familiar in its background, is also filled with surprising turns." - Confrontation

"Ikeda calls this first effort a historical novel. Although it is indeed based on historical incidents and is stylistically more realistic than Joy Kogawa's Obasan (1981), the novel's general effect is far more lyrical than, say, a Michener novel. Most literature published on the WWII concentration camp experiences of Japanese Americans has been written by, and largely about, women. Ikeda's novel is, therefore, unusual and welcome at the very least because it details the life of a Nisei man, beginning with his mother's having her legs tied together until her ship docks at an American port so that her son will be born American and ending with the son's death as an old man before the U.S. has made a formal apology and reparation…The novel deserves the attention of scholars of Asian American literature and history and of any reader looking for a satisfying story." - J. Tharp, Choice

"Because Ikeda refuses to compromise, to make stereotypes of victimized and victimizer, he achieves characterizations of complex human and historical density..." - Erica Harth, Brandeis Review

"Ikeda's ambitious new novel approaches the subject of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II from an unusual perspective. The greater portion of the novel is set in 1944 upon a craggy New England hill, which a middle-aged Nisei, released from the camps and hired as gardener by an independent-minded Irish American widow, is attempting to turn into a real farm. Through a series of flashbacks, the earlier life of William Fujita is portrayed…The New England scenes are especially vivid…often haunting [in] descriptions of Fujita's encounters with the alien terrain and climate of Massachusetts, and in its tender portrayal of his blossoming friendships on the hill." - Joseph Milicia, MultiCultural Review

"At a time when the Smithsonian atom bomb exhibit and national history standards are edited for anti-American content, [Ikeda's] first novel What the Scarecrow Said is a revelation. Thorough historical research meets epic novel in his story of protagonist Bill Fujita, and what merges is a long overdue "history from below," a surprisingly detailed account of life during World War II viewed through the eyes of an interned Japanese American [who] must start over in the present while trying to understand and communicate the past. The latter is also Ikeda's task -- one that he fulfills admirably with a wealth of historical detail. Some of the book's most effective passages are Ikeda's imagining and recreating of Japanese Americans' responses: to the poster that declared their imprisonment; to the U.S. government's 'loyalty question,' to a sociologist's questionnaire to the internees. At the same time, Ikeda is careful not to represent the "Japanese American experience" in Fujita or in any of the book's characters." - Jerome Chou, A. Magazine

"[A] solid exploration of difficult times--a first novel that is never so weighed down by politics as to overshadow the importance of the personal stories at its center." - Kirkus Reviews

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