Levy Hideo on His New Novel and Writing in Japanese

Levy Hideo (Ian Hideo Levy, 1950–) is known as the first white American novelist to write in Japanese. His novel A Room Where The Star-Spangled Banner Cannot Be Heard: A Novel in Three Parts, which was just published, tells the story of Ben Isaac, a blond-haired, blue-eyed American youth living with his father at the American consulate in Yokohama. Chafing against his father’s strict authority and the trappings of an America culture that has grown increasingly remote, Ben flees home to live with Andō, his Japanese friend. Andō shows Ben the way to Shinjuku, the epicenter of Japan’s countercultural movement.

Levy was born to a Jewish American father and a Polish immigrant mother, he became an assistant professor of Japanese literature at Princeton University at twenty-eight. In this talk given at Stanford, Levy discusses language and identity of a writer as well as the difficulties and rewards of gaining the privilege of writing in the Japanese language as a culturally foreign writer.

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