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Her words still carry traces of her Japanese accent, but her inflection and dialect are distinctly Midwestern. It would be easier to write a historical novel about, like, five centuries ago than a historical novel about an event you kind of missed just by a few years. And then I was going to write nonfiction about it, but for the same reason, I couldn’t. ” Mori had to reevaluate her purpose: if not these stories she’d had in mind, then what?
“I kind of wasted my sabbatical writing things that were never quite right, but I think I had to write all of that to get to the right place.” It took her some time to recognize that the “right place,” the real story, the big story—the story about going back to Japan and realizing that in no way could it ever be her home—had been there from the moment she boarded the airplane.
Her deep affection for and devotion to these cats is obvious.
She admits midway through our conversation, “My whole adult life has been a process of understanding that I really don’t like to travel. ” A big reason for that, she tells me, is that she hates to leave her cats.
An eclectic mix of artwork scatters her walls: watercolors, ink sketches, and tapestries, featuring the aforementioned cats and birds and flowers.
Unlike his extroverted brother, Mori’s second cat, Miles, a sleek blue-point Siamese (named for blues musician Miles Davis, “because he’s ‘kind of blue’”), runs to hide in a closet at the first sight of me.Polite Lies, essays about her life as a Japanese American woman in the Midwest, was published in 1998.Stone Field, True Arrow (2000) marks her first book of adult fiction and relates the story a middle-aged woman's awakening after her father dies in Japan.Within two minutes of our first meeting, on a morning in September 2015, Kyoko Mori, the acclaimed author of fiction and nonfiction, is balancing her Burmese cat, Jackson (short for the singer Jackson Browne, “because he’s brown,” she explains), on her head and showing me how she can wear him like a hat.I immediately recognize that, despite her impressive backstory, this petite woman, dressed comfortably in jeans and a navy-and-red-striped t-shirt with a polka dot pocket, her long, dark hair hanging loosely past her shoulders, does not take herself too seriously.She moved to the United States four years later to attend college, receiving her bachelor's degree from Rockford College and a master's and Ph. In Mori's well-received memoir The Dream of Water (1995), she travels back to Kobe to make peace with her mother's suicide and to visit the family she left behind.That same year she published her second young adult novel, One Bird (1995).Two months later, her father moved his mistress into their home, and for the next eight years, Mori was cut off from her mother’s family and endured physical and emotional abuse from her father and stepmother.Her move to the United States was, in all senses of the word, an escape.Paradoxically, though, the theme of displacement has been at the core of Mori’s writing, particularly her nonfiction.Her two memoirs, Mori was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1957.