Snow Falling on Cedars – Review

By: snowgood

Jan 21 2020


Category: books, literature, World War II

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Focal Length:4.25mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:iPhone 11

Here’s something remarkably good. The first novel by David Gutterson “Snow Falling on Cedar”.

Okay so I’m late to the party, the book was published in 1994.  My walking mate Tom loaned it to me last Monday evening.

I was a bit slow warming to the 404 page story, but by page fifty realised it was going to be good.

Let me outline what made struggle at first, and move on to main story line later.

Two obstacles came at me right at the start.

  1. It was infuriating not knowing which year the central theme was being acted out.  Eventually I was able to deduce “The Trial” is set in 1955, 350 pages into the story!
  2. I found it maddening that the island of San Piedro was entirely made up but “dumped into the sea” just west of Seattle.  All the other locations in the book are real so why not base the narrative on an actual place too?


Now that I’ve aired my gripes onto the plaudits.

It is unbelievably good for a first novel.

The characters come alive in a “flashback” to their youth.

In a way this is a book about racial stereo-typing, as we learn about the west-coast Japanese population.

The horror of Pearl Harbour comes alive more vividly than in a Big Screen movie.

A bit like a Frederick Forsyth novel the book’s appeal is strengthened by a meticulous detail.

Gutterson displays expertise on salmon fishing, strawberry farming, and the incarceration of Japanese as a “temporary precaution” after Pearl Harbour.

He also let his imagination run riot viz a viz “relations” between a young school boy, and Japanese girl.

Will the guy in the dock swing for murder, or be released as a free man?

Sorry, I can’t tell you!  You’ll have to read it yourself.



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