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Book Presentation - The Closed Hand: Images of the Japanese in Modern Peruvian Literature

Americas Society

March 21, 2013


Cover design by Anita Noble.

Admission: FREE for AS Members; $10.00 for non-members.

Online registration for tonight’s program has now closed. Members can arrive prior to the event and pick up their tickets; non-members may pay at the door to attend.

Author Rebecca Riger Tsurumi and fellow writers and scholars Araceli Tinajero and Miguel Angel Zapata will discuss Tsurumi’s acclaimed new book (Purdue University Press), which explores Peruvian attitudes toward the Japanese since their arrival in Peru in 1899. The book examines Japanese characters created by non-Japanese Peruvian authors, and presents the “insider” perspectives of Japanese-Peruvian poets José Watanabe and Doris Moromisato. In English.

"Rebecca Riger Tsurumi captures the remarkable story behind the changing human landscape in Peru at the end of the nineteenth century when Japanese immigrants established what would become the second largest Japanese community in South America. She analyzes how non-Japanese Peruvian narrators unlock the unspoken attitudes and beliefs about the Japanese held by mainstream Peruvian society as reflected in works written between 1966 and 2006. Tsurumi explores how these Peruvian literary giants including Mario Vargas Llosa, Miguel Gutiérrez, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Carmen Ollé, Pilar Dughi, and Mario Bellatín invented Japanese characters whose cultural differences fascinated and confounded their creators. She compares the outsider views of these Peruvian narrators with the insider perceptions of two Japanese-Peruvian poets, José Watanabe and Doris Moromisato, who tap personal experiences and memories to create images that define their identities." --From The Closed Hand: Images of the Japanese in Modern Peruvian Literature

Presented by the Americas Society with the additional collaboration of Purdue University Press; InterAmericas®; the Consulate General of Peru in New York; Columbia University; Cooper Union—School of Art; Hunter College, CUNY; New York University; McNally Jackson Books; and La Casa Azul Bookstore.

Contact: For questions, email

Rebecca Riger Tsurumi has worked as a journalist and editor in Latin America and the United States. She has published extensively about Asians in Latin America and wrote about Brazilian and Korean trading companies in Sogoshosha: Engines of Export-Based Growth (1984, Institute for Research on Public Policy). A Latinamericanist, she received a Ph.D. in Hispanic literature from the CUNY Graduate Center and has taught at CUNY, SUNY, Pace, and Adelphi Universities.  

Araceli Tinajero is associate professor at The City College of New York and The Graduate Center and is one of the founders of the Mexico Study Group at the Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies. She is the author of Orientalismo en el modernismo hispanoamericano (2004), El lector de tabaquería (2007), and El Lector: A History of the Cigar Factory Reader (2010). She is the editor of Cultura y letras cubanas en el siglo XXI (2010) and is currently co-editing Technology and Culture in Twentieth Century Mexico. Her last book, Kokoro, una mexicana en Japón, was released by Editorial Verbum in 2012.

Miguel Angel Zapata, associate professor of romance languages and literatures at Hofstra and a Peruvian poet and scholar, is considered one of the most innovative poets of his generation in Peru and one of the most influential poetic voices in Latin America. Zapata was awarded the 2011 Latino Literature Prize in the Poetry category for Fragmentos de una manzana y otros poemas, (Biblioteca Sibila/BBVA Foundation). Among his other works are Moradas de la voz. Notas sobre poesía latinoamericana contemporánea (2002), Mario Vargas Llosa and the Persistence of Memory (2006), and Poesía selecta (2010).