(September 24th, 2018)
“I read Rahna Reiko Rizzuto’s recently released novel, Shadow Child, in preparation for a panel I moderated at Chicago’s thirty-fourth annual Printers Row Lit Fest (PRLF). Shadow Child is a captivating mystery that centers around Lillie—a Japanese woman, American born—who comes of age during World War II and lands repeatedly between deadly rocks and hard places. Through the narrative of Lillie and her daughters, Hana and Kei, Rizzuto explores the scars, shadows, and hauntings of war, internment camps, natural disasters, racism, and other injustices.
“Shadow Child is brilliantly written, resonates eerily with current events, and left me with questions beyond the ones I had time for at the PRLF, so I was thrilled when Rizzuto agreed to interview and entertained more questions. I was equally delighted when, on a recent visit to New York, Rizzuto welcomed me, at the last minute, into her home where I got to gawk at the cavalcade of books and sculptures that lined her walls, feed on her homemade granola and yogurt, and spend several hours lost in conversation with her about fatal diseases, ecstatic dancing, and everything between.
“We tackled the ways in which Shadow Child examines trauma, identity, and monsters:”
For our full conversation, click here to go to The Rumpus. A teaser?
“Shadow Child has lots of monsters, hauntings, ghosts. But that is not where the real peril comes from. My monsters are the guilt and sorrow kind. They rise out of despair, helplessness. They are a manifestation of “dis-ease”; and they are invisible. Hidden.
“I have often said, even in this conversation, that we create our own reality. So it follows that we also create our own monsters. Sometimes, they are inside us, in the acts, or feelings or impulses that we don’t want to admit to. They are born out of our decisions, and how we choose to deal with things beyond our control. They remind us that the past is not easy to erase and ignore. They are also—just as trauma is in this story—inheritable.
“There is one moment—I’ll try not to make this a spoiler—when one of the characters realizes that the monsters can be wielded, controlled; that she can choose to evoke this notion of the monster and it is quite a powerful thing, though of course, it doesn’t go as planned. Very little in this novel goes as planned.”