About this book
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the U.S. military to ban anyone from certain areas of the country, with primary focus on the West Coast. Eventually the order was used to imprison 120,000 people of Japanese descent in incarceration camps such as the Rohwer Relocation Center in remote Desha County, Arkansas.
This time of fear and prejudice (the U.S. government formally apologized for the relocations in 1982) and the Arkansas Delta are the setting for Camp Nine. The novel’s narrator, Chess Morton, lives in tiny Rook Arkansas. Her days are quiet and secluded until the appearance of a “relocation” center built for what was, in effect, the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans.
Chess’s life becomes intertwined with those of two young internees and an American soldier mysteriously connected to her mother’s past. As Chess watches the struggles and triumphs of these strangers and sees her mother seek justice for the people who briefly and involuntarily came to call the Arkansas Delta their home, she discovers surprising and disturbing truths about her family’s painful past.
2013 Selection, If All Arkansas Read the Same Book
About the author
Vivienne Schiffer is a novelist and filmmaker who grew up in Desha County, Arkansas, and lives in Houston, Texas. She is currently at work on various film projects, including Relocation, Arkansas, a documentary about the Arkansas camps, as well as a second novel.
“A finely wrought debut novel.”
“A compelling, vivid account of a shameful episode that should not be forgotten.”
“Both lovely and painful. . . . a compelling coming of age tale that exposes the enormous chasm between the privileged and the oppressed in wartime Arkansas.”
Winner of the 2014 Susannah DeBlack Award from the Arkansas Historical Association.