Woman with a Blue Pencil

Written by Gordon McAlpine
Review by Viviane Crystal

Imagine your reaction if you woke up one morning and found that almost two months had passed and no one knows you. It is a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese invaders, and Americans are suspicious of all Asian-looking people. They believe there are Japanese spies in America and will do anything to stop such traitors. But for now, there’s a curfew for all Japanese, and Sam Sumida is trying to solve the murder of his wife, Kyoko, as well as partner with a man who claims he is in the same situation.

Another plot appears in between Sam’s story, one being written by a Japanese first-time author interned in one of those camps. He has changed his story from a Japanese character to a Korean-American detective, Jimmy Park, who attempts to find the vicious Japanese spy known as Orchid. This story is what is known as “metafiction,” a novel that is manipulated and monitored by an American woman editor but who really is someone else.

One of the novels is a discarded story; the other is heavily planned more by the editor than the author. The question of who is the most real character and who is an actual discarded character, presenting the besieged state of America and Asian-Americans during the time of America’s entrance into WWII, is a large part of the story. Superb, highly recommended historical fiction!