No-No Boy Background

No-No Boy Background

 No-No Boy is a novel written by Japanese American writer John Okada and was published in 1957.  

The novel is focused on a Japanese American man, Ichiro Yamada, a prisoner who has recently been released and is trying to find his way in the world again. His refusal to join the US army in preparation for war leads to his ostracism from his community and being labeled a ‘No-No boy’.  

The novel is told from the perspective of an omniscient voice combined with the narration of Yamada.

Okada has stated that the term ‘No-No boy’ first came from two questions on the Leave Clearance Application Form, administered to Japanese Americans in 1943. Many respondents thought that by answering any of the two questions, it would make them eligible for training for war and so many stated ‘No’ on the application, thus making them ‘No-No boys’.

The novel was republished in 1976, and there was a second printing in 1977 and has since become a critically acclaimed hit.

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