Author Bio by Tim

Karen Tei Yamashita, a Japanese-American author, was born on January 8, 1951 in Oakland, California. She spent most of her childhood living in Los Angeles, but attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. While at Carleton, she studied abroad in Japan at Waseda University during her junior year and she later graduated Phi Beta Kappa with degrees in English and Japanese Literature. Following her graduation in 1974, Yamashita received the Thomas J. Watson fellowship which she used to travel to Brazil where she researched Japanese immigration to Brazil and studied the Japanese-Brazilian population. She spent 9 years in Sao Paolo, Brazil where she met and married her husband, Ronaldo de Lopes Oliveira. While in Brazil, Yamashita dabbled in various forms of writing such as short stories, plays, and other fictional pieces and she received awards such as the James Clavell American-Japanese Short Story Contest for her short story "Asaka-No-Miya."

Yamashita and her family moved back to LA in 1984 and after publications in various journals, Yamashita released her first novel, "Through the Arc of the Rainforest," in 1990. The book is told through the eyes of a young Japanese immigrant in Brazil and documents the full-circle of destruction and restoration of Brazilian rainforests. "Through the Arc of the Rainforest" received the American Book Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Award. Yamashita's next novel, "Brazil-Maru,"reflected the research Yamashita did during her fellowship. The book highlights the origin and life of the Japanese colony, Esperanza, in Brazil. Yamashita's third novel, "The Tropic of Orange," reflects the interaction of various Los Angeles citizens during a traffic gridlock. Her fourth book, "Circle K Cycles," is the fraternal twin of "Brazil-Maru." In 1997, Yamashita received a Japan Foundation Fellowship to study the Brazilian population living in Japan.

Yamashita's latest novel, "I Hotel," is the culmination of the various types of research and writing she did throughout her writing career. "I Hotel" is comprised of ten novellas that document the various lives of 10 Filipino immigrants living in a hotel in San Francisco during the 1960s. The various novellas highlight the uprising of students in the San Francisco era that protested the eviction of the immigrants from the I-Hotel. "I Hotel" was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award.

Karen Tei Yamashita currently resides in California with her family and teaches creative writing and Asian-American literature at the University of California - Santa Cruz.

(Edited by Michael Sanders)