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The Postwar Seattle Chinatown of John Okada
The Postwar Seattle Chinatown of John Okada

The sense of postwar Seattle Chinatown as a place imbues the pages of John Okada’s 1957 novel “No-No Boy,” and in this panel we will examine the imagined world of the novel along with the real history behind it. Family historian Shox Tokita shares the legacy of Chinatown hotels managed by Japanese Americans, including three owned by his mother; former Seattle City Councilmember Dolores Sibonga tells stories of Filipino residents and workers in Chinatown, including that of her mother and the Estigoy Café; and Dr. Marie Rose Wong, author of “Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels,” examines the history of single-room occupancy residential hotels in Chinatown and the threats they now face.

Speakers include:

Frank Abe

Shokichi "Shox" Tokita

Dr. Marie Rose Wong

Dolores Dasalla Sibonga

Moderated by Emily Porcincula Lawsin

About the Author: John Okada (1923-1971) was born in Seattle and attended Broadway High School and the University of Washington before his wartime imprisonment in concentration camps in Puyallup and Minidoka, Idaho. He volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service and served as a translator in Guam, after which he earned a degree in library sciences and worked for a time in the Business Department of The Seattle Public Library. His only novel, “No-No Boy,” was published in 1957 and has been embraced by generations of readers. Okada died of a heart attack at the age of 47.

Presented by the Seattle Public Library. This is the one series of programs honoring the seminal Seattle author, John Okada. Related video: The John Okada Centennial: A celebration of his life and work


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