Tradition and Change in the Story of a Young Girl in Post-War Japan
Miyoko is a 16 year old girl in 1950s Japan. Both she and the country she lives in are on the verge of a new era: Miyoko is about to become a woman and Japan is about to take the leap into modernity. But first, both will have to face the traditions and mores of their pasts. This is a truly extraordinary story, told very simply but with grace and a great deal of empathy, about how the past shapes all of our futures.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Miyoko must work for an American family in order to help her own family survive. The United States’ occupation of Japan lasted from 1945 until 1952 and, under General Douglas Macarthur, broad political and social reforms that shook the island kingdom to its core were enacted. As Miyoko comes into contact with Western ideas and culture, so too does her entire country. Both are experiencing seismic changes that are hard to internalize and grapple with. For Miyoko, these “earthquakes” mean that she is learning to feel her own agency for the first time. She begins to question traditional gender roles and the arranged marriage that she was never consulted about, and to question whether the shame that will be brought to her family if she refuses to marry is truly her responsibility.
“The Earthquake Doll” is a sensitive, lovely portrait of the effects of world events on one person. Through the story of Miyoko we feel the pain of Japan’s transformation. And through the story of Japan’s transformation, we understand the shift and growth and ultimate flowering of one young woman.
About the Author
Candace Williams is a first time author who wrote “The Earthquake Doll” because she had always wondered about the lives of the two young women who worked for her family on a military base in Hokkaido, Japan, in the early 1950’s. About the women the novel is based on, Williams says, “I have no way of knowing what happened to them, but my novel explores likely scenarios. Theirs was the first generation of women to suddenly have individual rights. It’s a fascinating historical period.”
Candace Williams lives in Texas, with her husband and two rescued Italian Greyhounds. She is working on her next novel, a contemporary mystery. For more information, visit her website.