Mari Yoriko Sabusawa

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Mari Yoriko Sabusawa (July 10, 1920 – September 25, 1994), second-generation Japanese American, was a translator and the third wife of novelist James A. Michener, whom she married on October 23, 1955, in Chicago, Illinois.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born to Harry and Riki Sabusawa and raised in Las Animas, Colorado.[2] Her family moved to California after the attack on Pearl Harbor.[citation needed] Her family was then placed in an internment camp. After her family was interned in California, she was part of a relocation program for Japanese American students. She was designated to Antioch College in Ohio where she received her degree.[2] After college, she translated Japanese propaganda for the US intelligence service before attending graduate school at the University of Chicago.[2] She was editor of the American Library Association's Bulletin in Chicago in 1954 when she met her husband.[2]


Both she and her husband were involved in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the USSR.[citation needed] Many Hungarians were killed, forcing many to flee. Mari and James made their home in Vienna a safe haven. They helped many escape and make residence in the US. This would influence Michener's novel, The Bridge at Andau, 1957. She spoke out in support of American-Japanese marriages in the 1950s. She urged her husband, James, not to run for Congress as a Democrat in 1962.[citation needed] He did and lost. He continued writing. Mari was the encouragement and helped in the research of some of Michener's novels, such as, The Bridge at Andau, Hawaii, and The Source. Michener also wrote a novel called Centennial, written in 1974, which was later produced into a miniseries by the same name. It was filmed in part at Bent's Fort, close to Mari's hometown of Las Animas, Colorado.


Mari Michener died in Austin, Texas, on September 25, 1994.[1] She left a bequest of $5 million to the University of Texas at Austin for the construction of the Blanton Museum of Art in addition to the hundreds of paintings the couple gave the University during their lifetimes.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d "An Inventory of the James A. Michener Papers, Home Collection: Mari Michener (SC 1-31, Series 20)" (PDF). Archival Services, James A. Michener Library, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  2. ^ "History & Mission". Blanton Museum of Art: The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 25 October 2013.

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