Gregory Maguire, Wicked
"I was greatly pleased to find Stewart David Ikeda’s novel, What the Scarecrow Said, in my hands. It is an auspicious debut. Here is the life story of William Fujita, family man and farmer, who is caught in the crosswinds of a difficult historical moment. The quality of compassion and understanding for Fujita’s plight never allow us to simplify or codify our understandings of the Japanese-American plight during World War II; Ikeda, though a young writer, is already too good to deal in generalizations. What Ikeda accomplishes in What the Scarecrow Said is vast, subtle, and very welcome indeed.
"A beautiful story!"
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston,
A Farewell to Manzanar
(with James D. Houston)
Nicholas Delbanco, The Writer’s Trade and Running in Place
"[Mr.] Ikeda has a topic here of authentic interest, and his strategies of presentation are original throughout. He has a natural tale-teller’s bent, a graceful way with dialogue, a diction that’s quirky in just the right way...I have great faith in this novel, and admiration for its author: all augurs well indeed."
Charles Baxter, A Relative Stranger and Shadowplay
"Ikeda’s is a richly textured and layered book that sets characters, cultures, and histories into counterpoint, and the result is a finely tuned story about forms of animosity and love both inside and outside the Asian-American community during a difficult historical period."
Kelly Cherry, My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers and Writing the World
"Stewart David Ikeda has written a large, rich, encompassing and informative novel that causes us to re-think cultural perspectives. His varied characters, wrangly and reticent, inquisitive and dreamy, sensible and headstrong, move us deeply in their search for a place in the sun."
David Mura, Colors of Desire, Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei
"In a compelling and complex narrative, Ikeda explores the intricacies of race and identity against the backdrop of World War II and the internment of Japanese Americans. What the Scarecrow Said presents us with a new American hero, the Nisei William Fujita, as he works to retain his dignity and sanity amid a barrage of losses, both private and public, familial and political. Coming into the lives of two widows in a small New England town, Fujita surprises both them and the reader with his quiet resources and personal secrets. The result is a story of eloquence and pleasure, sadness and endurance, a revelation of the ways we Americans come to terms with our differences and our conflicting conceptions of who we are. This is a necessary novel, and I’m grateful for its presence."
Al Young, Sitting Pretty and Seduction by Light
"Because we regularly forget that the majority of Americans are descended from immigrants, migrant workers, indentured servants and slaves, this story of William Hiroshi Fujita–his ‘dangerous’ origins, his passions, his dreams, his suffering and struggles–seems crucially on-target. With imagination, soul, refreshing spells of zaniness, and with all-seeing eyes, Stewart David Ikeda evokes the very America that tormented and spiritualized a Japanese-American family like Fujita’s, a family addicted to hope and the future; a family invincibly American. Part allegory, part social saga, part mystery, part yarn, and wryly narrated, What the Scarecrow Said reads like a love story whose moving unfoldment spans the depth and breadth of the American Century...I have no doubt that this first novel [will] get a lot of attention, which it certainly deserves. What a striking, moving, thoroughly unpredictable read!"
Bret Lott, Jewel and Reed’s Beach
"The premise of this story is wonderful: a displaced Japanese American set in the midst of old New England during World War II. Immediately I found myself compelled to find out exactly what this man would do, how these widows would survive…The dream-like tone here, too, sets this off in a way that lends a bit of magic to the events, the geography, the time, the people...I like the feel of the characters, especially Mister Fujita, him letting out now and again with his ‘Pal,’ a great word that sets him off as distinctly American, which this story is."