Goto’s 20th anniversary edition
May 12th, 2014
Twenty years after its first publication, the feminist novel by Hiromi Goto, Chorus of Mushrooms (NeWest) has been re-issued. The new edition includes an extensive afterward by Larissa Lai and an interview by Smaro Kamboureli with Goto about the story’s origin. Goto will be celebrating the release of the 20th anniversary edition at Pulpfiction Books in Vancouver on May 17.
Information at: http://pulpfictionbooksvancouver.com/
Born in Chiba-ken, Japan in 1966, Hiromi Goto of Burnaby immigrated at age three. She lived on the West Coast for eight years; two years in Surrey, a summer in White Rock and the rest of the time in Langley. She moved to Nanton, Alberta where her father realized his ambition to operate a mushroom farm. Growing up she was influenced by the stories of Japan and Japanese culture told to her by both her grandmother and father. Goto attended the University of Calgary, graduating with a B.A. in 1989.
A self-described Japanese Canadian feminist, she first wrote A Chorus of Mushrooms, a novel about three women in the same family in Nanton. The grandmother came to Canada at age 54 having survived a loveless marriage and the firebombing of Japan during World War II. Her daughter rejects traditional Japanese culture in order to integrate in a new society, changing her name to Kay. She marries a Japanese Canadian mushroom grower and they have a daughter who forges her own identity between the two older female forces. The novel received the 1995 Commonwealth Writers Prize for best First Book (Canada-Caribbean) and the Canada-Japan Book Award.
Her follow-up adult novel The Kappa Child (Red Deer Press, 2001) received the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award. It refers to a creature in Japanese folk tales called the kappa, with a frog’s body, a turtle’s shell and a bowl-shaped head that holds water. The novel mixes science fiction, fantasy and Japanese mythology. This blending of genres mirrors Goto’s interest in gender blending.
Partly written during her 2007 Writer in Residency at the Vancouver Public Library, Goto’s third book, Half World(Puffin Canada, 2009),is described as an epic gender-bending fantasy about a lonely, overweight only child of a loving but neglectful mother who is lured back to “Half World” by the vindictive Mr. Glueskin. The heroine Melanie Tamaki must save her parents and protect the future of the universe in the bargain.
The title story of Goto’s collection of stories Hopeful Monsters (Arsenal, 2004) is derived from a paper by Wendy Pearson called Sex/uality and the Hermaphrodite in Science Fiction, or, The Revenge of Herculine Barbin from a book called Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). It is not directly derivative of Nicholas Mosley’s novel Hopeful Monsters. The collection in general is concerned with transformation and adaptation. The hopeful monsters, according to press material, “are women who will not be tethered by familial duty or the ghosts of the past.”
A Chorus of Mushrooms (NeWest Press, 1994, 2014) — novel
The Water of Possibility (Coteau Books, 2001) — young adult novel
The Kappa Child (Red Deer Press, 2001) — novel
Hopeful Monsters (Arsenal Pulp, 2004) — stories 1-55152-157-1
Half World (Puffin Canada 2009). Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. 978-0-670-06965-1