March Book Club: A Room Where the Star-Spangled Banner Cannot Be Heard

When: Thursday, March 1st, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Where:  Flatiron Building, 14th Floor (175 Fifth Avenue @ 23rd St)
Cost:  $2-3 for pizza and snacks (drinks are separate)
RSVP/Questions:  Email and check out the Facebook event

Looking for the next great book to read? Join us for the next JETAANY Book club in March: A Room Where the Star-Spangled Banner Cannot Be Heard by Levy Hideo. Hope to see you there!

Plot Synopsis:

Written by Levy Hideo, the first known white American novelist to write in Japanese, A Room Where the Star-Spangled Banner Cannot Be Heard tells the story of Ben Isaac, a blond-haired, blue-eyed American youth living with his father at the American consulate in Yokohama in the 1960s. Chafing against his father’s strict authority and the trappings of an American culture that has grown increasingly remote, Ben flees to live with Ando, his Japanese friend. Ando shows the young American the way to Shinjuku, the epicenter of Japan’s countercultural movement and the closest Ben has ever felt to home.

From the vantage point of a privileged and alienated gaijin, Levy’s narrative beautifully captures a heady, eventful moment in Japanese history. It also richly renders the universal struggle to grasp the full contours of one’s identity. Wandering the streets of Shinjuku, Ben can barely decipher the signs around him or make sense of the sounds reaching his ears. Eventually, the symbols and sensations take root, and he becomes one with Japanese language and culture. Levy’s coming-of-age novel is an eloquent elegy to a lost time.

“Have we failed to catch the calm but earnest tone that echoes like music through Levy Hideo’s prose? With his unique literary voice, this writer clearly represents a new kind of novelist for Japanese literature. As a superior symbol of mutual understanding between two languages and two nations, this accomplishment surely rivals the work of Masao Miyoshi.”  —Oe Kenzaburo, Asahi Shimbun