Naomi Hirahara, author of the Mas Arai Mystery Series.
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Summer of the Big Bachi (Bantam/Delta, March
30, 2004) was Naomi's first mystery. The book, a finalist for Barbara
Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize, was also nominated for a Macavity mystery
award. This was followed by Gasa-Gasa Girl. Snakeskin Shamisen, the third in the series, was released in May 2006 and won an Edgar Allan Poe award in the category of
Best Paperback Original. The fourth Mas Arai mystery, Blood Hina, was published in
hardcover March 2010 by St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne Books. Trade paperback
and new ebook version will be released later in 2013 by Prospect Park
Books, the publisher of the fifth installment, Strawberry Yellow has just been published. Hirahara has short stories published in a number of anthologies, including Los
Angeles Noir (Akashic, May 2007), A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female
Noir (Busted Flush Press, December 2007), and The Darker Mask (TOR, January
2008). Naomi's new mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime,
featuring a 22-year-old LAPD bicycle cop, will be released in 2014.
In the summer of 2008 her first middle-grade book, 1001 Cranes,
was released by Random House's Delacorte imprint in hardback and came
out as a Yearling trade paperback in June 2009.
It was recognized with an Honorable Mention award in
Youth Literature by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association.
She edited Green Makers: Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California
(2000), published by the Southern California Gardeners' Federation and
partially funded by the California Civil Liberties Public Education
Program. She also authored two biographies for the Japanese American
National Museum, An American Son: The Story of George Aratani, Founder of Mikasa and Kenwood (2000) and A Taste for Strawberries: The Independent Journey of Nisei Farmer Manabi Hirasaki (2003). She also compiled a reference book, Distinguished Asian American Business Leaders (2003), for Greenwood Press and with Dr. Gwenn M. Jensen co-authored the book, Silent Scars of Healing Hands: Oral Histories of Japanese American Doctors in World War II Detention Camps
(2004) for the Japanese American Medical Association. Under her own
small press, Midori Books, she has created a book for the Southern
California Flower Growers, Inc., A Scent of Flowers: The History of the Southern California Flower Market (2004). Other upcoming Midori Books projects include Fighting Spirit: Judo in Southern California, 1930-1941 (co-authored by Ansho Mas Uchima and Larry Akira Kobayashi, 2006).
Naomi Hirahara was born in Pasadena, California. Her father, Isamu
(known as "Sam"), was also born in California, but was taken to
Hiroshima, Japan, as an infant. He was only miles away from the
epicenter of the atomic-bombing in 1945, yet survived. Naomi's mother,
Mayumi, or "May," was born in Hiroshima and lost her father in the
blast. Shortly after the end of World War II, Sam returned to California
and eventually established himself in the gardening and landscaping
trade in the Los Angeles area. After Sam married May in Hiroshima in
1960, the couple made their new home in Altadena and then South
Pasadena, where Naomi and her younger brother Jimmy grew up and attended
Naomi received her bachelor's degree in international relations from
Stanford University and studied at the Inter-University Center for
Advanced Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo. She also spent three months
as a volunteer work camper in Ghana, West Africa.
She was a reporter and editor of The Rafu Shimpo
during the culmination of the redress and reparations movement for
Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes during
World War II. During her tenure as editor, the newspaper published a
highly-acclaimed inter-ethnic relations series after the L.A. riots.
Naomi left the newspaper in 1996 to serve as a Milton
Center Fellow in creative writing at Newman University in Wichita,
After returning to Southern California in 1997, she began to edit, publish, and write books.
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