Some 500 audience members were on hand to hear and meet David Guterson on March 17. In an on-stage interview with Dr. Nicolas Witschi of WMU, the award winning author of Snow Falling on Cedars answered questions about the book, his writing habits, about Bainbridge Island, about literature for high school students, and about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Guterson wrote Snow Falling on Cedars some 25 years ago, a labor 10 years in the making. He carved out time in summers, on weekends, and early in the morning to write. Now a full-time author, he still writes daily out of habit.
“It’s important to work every day.” Some days, he said, nothing happens, but “it’s important to be sitting there when something happens.”
Guterson was asked how the exhibition “For the Sake of the Children” (on display at KPL through April 14) came to inspire Snow Falling on Cedars. He said he first saw it on display at Bainbridge High School where he was a teacher.
“The exhibit helped people understand visually —and therefore emotionally—what happened. I realized I was looking at faces of people I knew. They were a reality, not an abstraction.”
Guterson said he was pleased that his book has inspired communities to explore and remember what happened to Japanese Americans.
“Just the idea that all of this is happening here, the exhibits at the library, I feel really good about that.”
David Guterson in Kalamazoo