Recently, I was reading a site which reviews books. It’s called Kirkus Reviews. There was a review of a book of essays (non-fiction) in which the author’s “travels have taken her around the world, including Kyoto and Fukushima, Iceland, Mexico, Detroit and New Orleans…” (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rebecca-solnit/the-encyclopedia-of-trouble-and-spaciousness/)
The book was too expensive for me to purchase for myself, so I requested the Fukushima Prefectural Library to purchase it. The library did purchase it, and I’ve just read the book.
(The book is called “The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness.” It is by Rebecca Solnit.)
It took me a couple of days of reading to reach the essay in which Solnit’s travels supposedly take her to Fukushima. (This essay is titled: The Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: Aftermaths in Japan.)
But Solnit’s travels do NOT take her to Fukushima. (In fairness, she likely went through Fukushima on the bullet train. But no where in the essay does she say she stopped in Fukushima, visited Fukushima or even talked to a Fukushimer.)
Solnit’s travels take her to Iwate.*
The coast of Iwate Prefecture was devastated, absolutely devastated, by the March 2011 tsunami. She visits one of the worst hit areas, though, a town in Iwate where 10% of the population was killed by the tsunami. She talks to survivors from that area. I think it’s wonderful that she visited Iwate. Her visit, and her caring, probably meant so very much to the people that she met.
So, uh, why then does the reviewer at Kirkus say that Solnit’s travels took her to Fukushima?
Obviously, it’s a mistake. And we all make mistakes.
But why was this mistake made?
I can think of a couple reasons:
1.) The reviewer did not actually read the essay well and thus did not notice Solnit did not visit Fukushima.
2.) The review does not realize that Fukushima is separate from Iwate. And that both Fukshima and Iwate are in Tohoku.
…..So this begs the question, why didn’t the Kirkus reviewer write the truth? That is: Solnit’s travels have taken her around the world, including Kyoto and Iwate, Iceland, Mexico, Detroit and New Orleans….
I don’t know, I’m not the reviewer. Probably it was an honest mistake.
But honest mistakes like these are VERY UNFAIR to the people of Iwate and Miyagi.
Americans often use the term “Fukushima” to refer to…..I’m not sure…….But it is being used WAY TOO LOOSELY.
Using the term “Fukushima” loosely ignores those in other prefectures who were also affected by the quake and its tsunami. (The tsunami did kill people here in Fukushima. And other prefectures, as well. Not only Fukushima Prefecture, not by any means.)
Solnit herself is on the up-and-up. She seems very caring and never claimed to have actually visited Fukushima. She was very supportive of the community she visited in Iwate Prefecture. I applaud her in that.
*Rebecca Solnit also says that while in Japan, she visited, um, I hope I have them all: Sendai (She does not say this, but Sendai City is in the prefecture of Miyagi and is located in Tohoku. Miyagi was also devastated by tsunami.) Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima. (If she visited other places during her stay in Japan, she did not include them in her essay.)