Karen Tei Yamashita to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award From the National Book Foundation

The National Book Foundation recently announced that Karen Tei Yamashita has been awarded its medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The award honors a lifetime of achievement.

Born in Oakland in 1951, Yamashita grew up in Los Angeles. After attending Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and Waseda University in Tokyo, she studied the extensive history of Japanese immigration to Brazil, worked on translations and screenplays, and produced a number of dramatic works. Coffee House Press, a nonprofit independent press based in Minneapolis, published her first novel, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, in 1991. She is the author of eight books, most recently, Sansei and Sensibility (Coffee House Press, 2020), and numerous plays. Yamashita currently serves as professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she has taught literature and creative writing since 1997.

David Steinberger, chair of the board of directors of the National Book Foundation, stated that “Yamashita’s deeply creative body of work has made an enduring impact on our literary landscape. Whether it’s an evocative exploration of cities, collaborative performance productions, or connecting the plots of Jane Austen to Japanese American life, her work reaches across time, country, and culture to offer readers a powerfully complex guide to our world.”

Professor Yamashita will be honored during the annual National Book Award ceremony, which will be held in Manhattan on November 17.

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