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"Camp Nine is a wonderfully written novel of World War II in southeast Arkansas"
Read the book review by Maylon Rice in the McGehee Times

Camp Nine
A Novel
Vivienne Schiffer

"[F]inely wrought debut novel...Schiffer immerses readers in the thick bayou air and community tensions."
Publishers Weekly

"A compelling, vivid account of a shameful episode that should not be forgotten."
Booklist starred review

Camp Nine beautifully captures a sense of time and place that resonates
with authenticity. It shows an intimate familiarity with the internment
camp at Rohwer—how the camp came to be situated in such a remote
part of Arkansas, life within the camp, and the feelings of the Japanese
Americans held captive there, as well as what life was like in the 1940s for
the locals outside. It is a perspective that has never been presented. I love
this book and recommend it as a must-read.”
—Delphine Hirasuna, author of The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942 – 1946

“Through the prisms of place, family, race, class, power, and privilege,
Vivienne Schiffer skillfully constructs a necessarily complicated portrait of
the era into a meaningful mosaic and satisfying story.”
—Grif Stockley, author of Ruled by Race: Black/White Relations in
Arkansas from Slavery to the Present

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive
Order 9066 authorizing the secretary of war to prescribe military zones
“from which any or all persons may be excluded.” Eventually this order
was applied to one-third of the land area in the United States, mostly in
the West, clearing the way for the relocation of 120,000 people of
Japanese descent.

This time of fear and prejudice (the U.S. government formally apologized
for the relocations in 1982 after determining they were not a military
necessity) 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 that of 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 these people who came briefly and
involuntarily to call the Arkansas Delta their home, she discovers surprising
and disturbing truths about her family’s painful past.

“Rook” and “Camp Nine” are fictionalized versions of Rohwer, Arkansas, and the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County, one of two sites in Arkansas where 16,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated between 1942 and 1945. Memorabilia from the Rohwer camp has been collected by Vivienne Schiffer’s mother, Rosalie Gould, for an exhibit for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in September 2011. For more information, visit
encyclopediaofarkansas.net and butlercenter.org.

 

Vivienne Schiffer is a novelist and screenwriter who grew up in Desha County, Arkansas, and has practiced law in Houston for many years.

 

October
6 x 9, 151 pages
$29.95 cloth
ISBN 978-1-55728-972-8