Water Thicker Than Blood

A Memoir of a Post-Internment Childhood

George Uba
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2258-3
Publication: Jun 22

HC: $110.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2257-6
Publication: Jun 22

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2259-0
Publication: Jun 22

232 pages
6 x 9
1 halftones

An evocative yet unsparing examination of the damaging effects of post-internment ideologies of acceptance and belonging experienced by a Japanese American family


“I thought my life began in Chicago. I was mistaken. That is where my body first made its appearance, but the contours of my life…had their start much sooner.” In Water Thicker Than Blood, poet and professor George Uba traces his life as a Japanese American born in the late 1940s, a period of insidious anti-Japanese racism. His beautiful, impressionist memoir chronicles how he, like many Sansei (and Nisei) across the United States, grappled with dislocation and trauma while seeking acceptance and belonging. Uba’s personal account of his efforts to achieve normality and assuage guilt unfolds as racial demographics in America are shifting. He struggled with inherently violent midcentury educational and childrearing practices and a family health crisis, along with bullying. Uba describes boy scouts and yogore (community rebels and castoffs) with vivid detail, using these vignettes to show how margins were blurred and how both sets of youth experienced injury through the same ideological pressures. Water Thicker Than Blood is not a conventional story about recovery or family reconciliation. But it offers an intimate look at the lasting—in some ways irreversible—damage caused by post-internment ideologies of “being accepted” and “fitting in inconspicuously.” It speaks volumes for the greater Sansei post-internment experience.

About the Author(s)

George Uba is an Emeritus Professor of English at California State University, Northridge, where he served as Chair of the Department of English and was a founding faculty member and Acting Chair of the Department of Asian American Studies. He is the author of Disorient Ballroom, a volume of poetry.


In the Series

  • Asian American History and Culture edited by Cathy Schlund-Vials, Rick Bonus, and Shelley Sang-Hee Lee

    Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeriti editor Michael Omi, David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong and Linda Trinh Võ, series editors Cathy Schlund-Vials, Rick Bonus, and Shelley Sang-Hee Lee continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.