The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

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"Just remember," Yoshio said quietly to his grandsons. "Every day of your lives, you must always be sure what you're fighting for."
It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers are growing up with their loving grandparents, who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows unusual skill at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hard-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater.
Across town, a renowned sumo master, Sho Tanaka, lives with his wife and their two young daughters: the delicate, daydreaming Aki and her independent sister, Haru. Life seems full of promise as Kenji begins an informal apprenticeship with the most famous mask-maker in Japan and Hiroshi receives a coveted invitation to train with Tanaka. But then Pearl Harbor changes everything. As the ripples of war spread to both families' quiet neighborhoods, all of the generations must put their dreams on hold---and then find their way in a new Japan.
In an exquisitely moving story that spans almost thirty years, Gail Tsukiyama draws us irresistibly into the world of the brothers and the women who love them. It is a world of tradition and change, of heartbreaking loss and surprising hope, and of the impact of events beyond their control on ordinary, decent men and women. Above all, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a masterpiece about love and family from a glorious storyteller at the height of her powers.

About Gail Tsukiyama

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Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father in San Francisco, Gail Tsukiyama now lives in El Cerrito, California. Her novels include Dreaming Water, Women of the Silk, The Language of Threads, and Night of Many Dreams.
Published September 4, 2007 by St. Martin's Press. 454 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Kirkus Reviews

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Tsukiyama (Dreaming Water, 2005, etc.) was perhaps aiming for a restrained grace in her narrative of two boys growing up amidst the destruction of war, but instead the novel offers little more than a listless chronology of Hiroshi and Kenji’s triumphs and sorrows.

Sep 04 2007 | Read Full Review of The Street of a Thousand Blos...

The New York Times

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Near the beginning of Gail Tsukiyama’s new novel, a grandmother tells her two young grandsons a story about the death of her daughter and son-in-law — the boys’ parents — but it’s also a story about innocent people who suffer because of the folly of others and the inexplicability of fate, and who...

Oct 14 2007 | Read Full Review of The Street of a Thousand Blos...

Book Reporter

Never far from his brother, Hiroshi --- now the top sumo wrestler in Japan --- captures the heart of Aki, a girl he knew during his childhood (their union is somewhat fated, as Hiroshi was the one who told her about her mother’s death during the firestorm).

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Street of a Thousand Blos...

USA Today

Gail Tsukiyama has devoted her writing life to exploring her Chinese and Japanese heritage.In earlier novels, relationships in both lands have unfolded in the shadow of World War II.In her sixth novel, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, she returns to this fertile landscape to follow the story of...

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