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In “Japanese New York” author Olga Kanzaki Sooudi draws on her observations of Japanese artists in Lower Manhattan to paint a vivid picture of migrants in New York. Her study includes biographical and fictional representations of the migrant experience as relayed in the literature of Mori Ogai, the films of Sono Sion, and the real-life stories of artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Yoko Ono.

Sooudi’s sympathetic, rich ethnographic portraits go a long way toward destabilizing the typical Orientalist view of ignorant, camera-toting Japanese tourists. Instead, the migrants here are modern flaneurs — astute urbanites whose movements and actions inscribe New York with new meaning.

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