Mari Yoshihara Wins Three Awards for Her Book on Leonard Bernstein

Mari Yoshihara, a professor of American studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, has won three awards in Japan for her book, Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro (Oxford University Press, 2019). The Japanese version of Professor Mari Yoshihara’s critically acclaimed work based on personal letters penned by and to world-renowned musician Leonard Bernstein was published in 2022. Professor Yoshihara was honored with the Kawai Hayao Prize for Stories, the Japan Essayist Club Award, and the Music Pen Club Japan Award.

Dearest Lenny interweaves the story of an intimate relationship between Bernstein, indisputably one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, and two unknown Japanese individuals. The book features deeply expressive letters that touch upon political, economic, social, and cultural history of U.S-Japan relations during the Cold War, dynamics of the arts and the state, and the politics of gender and sexuality.

Dr. Yoshihara joined the UH Mānoa faculty in 1997 after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tokyo and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She specializes in U.S. cultural history, U.S.-Asia relations, women’s, gender and sexuality studies, and literary and cultural studies.

“Mari Yoshihara is an internationally acclaimed scholar whose vibrant scholarship and academic profile greatly enhances the College of Arts, Languages and Letters as a college and UH Mānoa as a university,” said dean Peter Arnade. “I am thrilled her recent book has garnered such acclaim and netted such prestigious awards in Japan. We are lucky to have a scholar of Dr. Yoshihara’s prominence on our faculty.”

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