Rui Umezawa

Rui Umezawa was born in Tokyo in 1959. He left Japan as a child as his father, a theoretical physicist, pursued career opportunities in Europe, the United States and then Canada. He studied comparative literature and completed a M.A. at the University of Alberta in 1986. His thesis is entitled: Deconstruction and Hermeneutics: A Comparative Study of Two Interpretive Approaches. In 1988 he moved to Toronto where he continues to live and work.

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Aiko’s Flowers

Illustrated by Yuji Ando.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 1999.
9th floor PZ7 .U38 A45 1999

Publisher’s Synopsis

People around the world love the beautiful art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement. But for little Aiko, who would rather be playing video games like her brother, it brings only frustration. The flowers droop and look awkward in her clumsy fingers. … She can’t even understand why she has to learn ikebana at all, just because her mother did, and her mother before her.

Strange Light Afar book cover

Fiction (Juvenile, Folklore)

Strange Light Afar

Illustrated by Mikkio Fujita.
Toronto: Groundwood, 2015.
9th floor PZ49.41 .U44 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

A bitterly jealous brother, a samurai who makes the ultimate sacrifice, a cold-hearted husband, a monk who mistakes desire for piety, a fraudulent merchant who meets his match in a supernatural river otter — the motives underlying these traditional Japanese folktale characters are explored with haunting results.

Prompted by the sometimes illogical and perplexing actions of folktale characters (Why doesn’t the wolf kill Little Red Riding Hood right away?), master storyteller Rui Umezawa revisits eight popular Japanese folktales, delving beneath their sometimes baffling plot lines to highlight the psychological motivations behind the characters’ actions. …

Evocative and haunting illustrations by the stunningly talented Mikiko Fujita add to the eerie beauty of this collection. A detailed afterword outlines the author’s storytelling approach and provides source material for each tale.


Fiction

The Truth About Death and Dying

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2002.
Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2003.
9th floor PS8591 .M49 T78 2003

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Rui Umezawa’s first novel weaves in and out of the lives of three generations of the Hayakawa family, starting during World War II in Japan and ending in
present-day Toronto. The story is tragic, hilarious, lyrical and universal, tracing the legacy of war and the past on one
family’s fortunes and memories.

Awards and Honours

2003 Commonwealth Book Prize — Best First Book–Caribbean & Canada Region (Nominated)

Anthology (Memoir, Juvenile)

Umezawa, Rui. “Shadow Play.” In Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting Into Canada, edited by Teresa Toten. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2010, 139-150.

Links

Publisher Groundwood

Publisher Random House of Canada has information on Umezawa.

Bookclubs.ca guide to The Truth About Death and Dying.