289 pages
ISBN 0-670-84472-1
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is a professor of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University, an associate fellow of the Simone de Beauvoir
Institute, and author of Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home.


Poetry and politics? What better way to make clear the political
realities of history than a poetic novel filled with dreams, images, and

There are many books about the incarceration of Japanese-Canadian
citizens for seven long years (1942–49), and at least one about the
1988 redress settlement by the Canadian government (Justice in Our Time
[1991]). But poet and novelist Joy Kogawa has no competitors when it
comes to turning that searing injustice into the flesh-and-blood
experience of fear, humiliation, anger, hope, and love. Through credible
characters and vivid images, Kogawa allows her reader to live through
the displacement.

Itsuka covers the life of nisei Naomi Nakane as a child in Slocan, a
teen in Granton, a teacher in small-town Alberta, and a timid activist
in Toronto. Unlike her warrior aunt, Naomi (born in 1935 like her
creator) is an idealistic but repressed woman, fearful of attention and
physical contact.

Kogawa gives voice to her opponents, including World War II veterans,
and argues her case well. “Oppression is oppression. It’s all
connected.” Itsuka (“someday”) is both idealistic and realistic, a
superb realization of a journey out of fear made by individuals in the
process of forging community.


Kogawa, Joy., “Itsuka,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,