Karen Tei Yamashita

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Karen Tei Yamashita (Japanese: 山下てい, Born January 8, 1951 in Oakland, California) is a Japanese-American writer.

She is Professor of Literature at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches creative writing and Asian American literature. Her works, several of which contain elements of magic realism, include novels I Hotel (2010), Circle K Cycles (2001), Tropic of Orange (1997), Brazil-Maru (1992), and Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990). Yamashita's novels emphasize the necessity of polyglot, multicultural communities in an increasingly globalized age, even as they destabilize orthodox notions of borders and national/ethnic identity.

She has also written a number of plays, including Hannah Kusoh, Noh Bozos and O-Men which was produced by the Asian American theatre group, East West Players.[1]

Yamashita was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award.[2] In 2011 she was named a Fellow of United States Artists.[3] In 2013 she was co-appointed with Bettina Aptheker as the UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies; a position offered to distinguished members of the university's faculty intended to encourage new or interdisciplinary program development.[4]

Selected writings[edit]

  • Through the Arc of the Rain Forest. (Coffee House Press, 1990).
  • Brazil-Maru. (Coffee House Press, 1992).
  • Tropic of Orange. (Coffee House Press, 1997).
  • Circle K Cycles. (Coffee House Press, 2001).
  • I Hotel. (Coffee House Press, 2010).
  • Anime Wong: Fictions of Performance, edited with an afterword by Stephen Hong Sohn. (Coffee House Press, 2014).
  • Letters to Memory. (Coffee House Press, 2017).

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • 1975 First Place, Amerasia Journal Short Story Contest, for "The Bath"
  • 1975 First Place, Rafu Shimpo Short Story Contest, for "Tucano"
  • 1975 First Place, Gremio Literario: Colonia Short Story Contest, for Portuguese translation of "Tucano"
  • 1979 First Place, James Clavell American-Japanese Short Story Contest, for "Asaka-no-Miya"
  • 1991 American Book Award for Through the Arc of the Rain Forest
  • 1992 Janet Heidinger Kafka Award for Through the Arc of the Rain Forest
  • 1998 Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement, Carleton College
  • 1998 Finalist, Paterson Fiction Prize for Tropic of Orange, by the Poetry Center, Paterson, NJ
  • 2000 College Commendations for outstanding service to the Kresge College community, UCSC
  • 2001 Excellence in Teaching Award, UCSC
  • 2009 Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity, UCSC
  • 2010 National Book Award Finalist in Fiction for I Hotel
  • 2010 California Book Award, Gold Medal in Fiction for I Hotel, Commonwealth Club, San Francisco
  • 2010 Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award in Fiction for I Hotel
  • 2011-2012 United States Artists Ford Fellowship
  • 2011 American Book Award for I Hotel, Before Columbus Foundation
  • 2011 Asian American Literary Award, First Finalist in Fiction, I Hotel, Asian American Writers' Workshop, NY
  • 2011 Asian American Members' Choice Award, I Hotel, Asian American Writers' Workshop, NY
  • 2012-2015 UC Presidential Chair, Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, co-holder with Professor Bettina Aptheker, Feminist Studies
  • 2012 Association for Asian American Studies Prose Book Award for I Hotel[5]


  1. ^ Production history at East West Players
  2. ^ http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2010_f_yamashita.html
  3. ^ United States Artists Official Website
  4. ^ "Humanities professors awarded UC Presidential Chair". UC Santa Cruz News. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  5. ^ "https://literature.ucsc.edu/faculty/singleton.php?cruz_id=ktyamash&singleton=true". literature.ucsc.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-12. External link in |title= (help)

External links[edit]