Five Years on a Rock: A Novel
Softcover, 155 pp.
Milton Murayama returns to the places and people of his earlier fiction – to the sugar plantation company towns and sleepy villages of Maui, and to the resilient Oyama family. Five Years on a Rock is the story of Sawa Oyama, the mother who plays a major role in All I Asking for Is My Body. In a spirited voice full of courage and wit, Sawa tells of her arrival in Hawaii in 1915 as a seventeen-year-old picture bride. But her hope of returning to Japan after “five years on a rock” wanes as the five years stretch to twenty, during which six children are born, her husband's fishing business succeeds then fails, and the family debt grows. Overworked and sick with worry, Sawa loses all her teeth and falls deathly ill, the victim, she believes, of someone else's bachi (divine retribution). She recovers, however, when an aunt dies in her stead, and she returns to her family with renewed vigor and a new set of teeth.