White Elephant

White Elephant

by Mako Idemitsu

Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Published by: Chin Music Press Inc.

224 pages, 5.13 x 7.63 in

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781634059589
  • Published: November 2016


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With a deeply-imbedded indebtedness to their father Morimasa Morimoto, a self-made man in post-war Japan, two sisters struggle to uphold a family legacy. Sakiko moves to the fantastically free United States. Fragile and unsure in 1960s San Francisco, she clings to her brazen artist husband for stability. Hiroko, headstrong and irreverent, uses her father's money to move to New York, promising to become a famous artist. Intolerant of weakness in others, she crumbles in the face of her own shortcomings.

From catty carpooling moms to manipulative stoners, abortions to adultery, White Elephant is a vivid book from a seasoned artist turned writer. Mako Idemitsu, daughter of Rockefeller-esque petroleum executive Sazo Idemitsu, reconfigures her own family discord to reflect on the binds of being female in this gorgeous English translation.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Mako Idemitsu immigrated to the United States in 1963 where she met and married abstract expressionist painter Sam Francis. Disillusioned with housewife life she picked up an 8mm camera and became a pioneer in experimental video and the feminist art movement of the 1970s. Internationally acclaimed, her work has been featured in major museums worldwide and is included in the MOMA's permanent collection. This is her debut novel.

Award-winning translator Juliet Winters Carpenter has rendered the works of Abe Kobo, Fumiko Enchi, and Minae Mizumura. Within the year she will be the first person to have won the prestigious Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature twice.