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Lynne Kutsukake offers a defeated nation’s perspective on the aftermath of WWII in “The Translation of Love”. Kutsukake is a third generation Canadian. Not old enough to have experienced Japan’s defeat, but wise enough to reflect on WWII’s human tragedy. As noted many times in former reviews, there are no winners in war. There are only survivors.
Kutsukake creates a story of a 12-year-old Japanese Canadian girl at the end of WWII. Her name is Aya Shimamura. In Canada, her mother and father experience discrimination of being a minority in a largely homogeneous nation. Aya’s mother commits suicide by drowning.
Kutsukake re-creates the 1945, god-like adoration of MacArthur by the Japanese. Though there is obvious respect for MacArthur’s power and position in Japan, there is underlying resentment by many Japanese of America’s occupation and cultural influence. The devastation and poverty of the countryside is contrasted with the behavior of American soldiers assigned to Japan.
Kutsukake shows the heartache of loss, the importance of culture, friendship, and respect. More significantly, her novel vivifies the negative consequence of war. It tears families apart. It reinforces discrimination. It diminishes society. “The Translation of Love” is a well told story of life’s return to normality after war.