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Interview: Kimiko Guthrie discusses her personal connection to 'Block Seventeen' with Audible Editor Tricia

''...I wanted to write it through that lens of chasing it, shadows, in a way...''
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  • Block Seventeen
  • ''...I wanted to write it through that lens of chasing it, shadows, in a way...''

Publisher's Summary

Akiko "Jane" Thompson, a half-Japanese, half-Caucasian woman in her mid-30s, is attempting to forge a quietly happy life in the Bay Area with her fiance, Shiro. But after a bizarre car accident, things begin to unravel. An intruder ransacks their apartment but takes nothing, leaving behind only cryptic traces of his or her presence. Shiro, obsessed with government surveillance, risks their security in a plot to expose the misdeeds of his employer, the TSA. Jane's mother has seemingly disappeared, her existence only apparent online. Jane wants to ignore these worrisome disturbances until a cry from the past robs her of all peace, forcing her to uncover a long-buried family secret.

As Jane searches for her mother, she confronts her family's fraught history in America. She learns how they survived the incarceration of Japanese Americans, and how fear and humiliation can drive a person to commit desperate acts.

In melodic and suspenseful prose, Guthrie leads the lsitener to and from the past, through an unreliable present, and, inescapably, toward a shocking revelation. Block Seventeen, at times charming and light, at others disturbing and disorienting, explores how fear of the "therâ" continues to shape our supposedly more enlightened times.

©2020 Kimiko Guthrie (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

Editor's Pick

Mythology, mystery, and memory
"To me, Block Seventeen exemplifies how we are the unreliable narrators of our own memories… but that says nothing about our ability to discover truths. Akiko ‘’Jane’’ Thompson is an unemployed, thirtysomething, half-Japanese/half-Caucasian woman living in the San Francisco Bay area in 2011 who sets out to solve a series of confounding mysteries—some almost mythically tied to the rarely-spoken-of generational pain spawned from her family’s suffering in US Japanese Internment camps during WWII. It’s in the unraveling of painful family histories, in confronting disappointing personal relationships, and in the struggle to separate fact from fiction in the ‘’news’’ of the present that Jane’s story emerges."—Tricia F., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Block Seventeen

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Mystery, History & Love

This was so difficult to turn off when I got to work every day! It’s riveting! Kimiko Guthrie paints with words bringing Japanese-American culture to the reader’s mind and heart using delightful and tender magical realism.

2 people found this helpful

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Captivating! Beautifully written!!

I loved Block Seventeen!
I know everyone will enjoy it as much as I did!

2 people found this helpful

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Chapter 14 and still not sure

I really really want to like this book, and perhaps it’s me, but I’m on chapter 14 and I’m still not quite sure what the book is about. I will keep listening and perhaps it will end up wow’ing me.

1 person found this helpful

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Mythology, mystery, and memory

To me, BLOCK SEVENTEEN exemplifies how we are the unreliable narrators of our own memories… but that says nothing about our ability to discover truths. Akiko ‘’Jane’’ Thompson is an unemployed, thirtysomething, half-Japanese/half-Caucasian woman living in the San Francisco Bay area in 2011 who sets out to solve a series of confounding mysteries—some almost mythically tied to the rarely-spoken-of generational pain spawned from her family’s suffering in US Japanese Internment camps during WWII. It’s in the unraveling of painful family histories, in confronting disappointing personal relationships, and in the struggle to separate fact from fiction in the ‘’news’’ of the present that Jane’s story emerges.

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Could not stop listening!

Beautifully written and narrated. I loved being transported into Jane’s life. Going between the past and present was almost dreamlike. Learned about part of our history that I was never taught in school. Highly recommend!

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn't finish it

Historical, family, and personal trauma abound in this story of a Japanese American unemployed. Not a grain of humor. The constant back and forth from the present to the past of the narrator and to the traumatic past of her parents do not help taking an interest in her depression. The mix of fantasy and realism, which I usually like in Japanese literature, seem placated here. I rarely leave a book unfinished but I did with this one.

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Interesting story

An interesting, absorbing story, what starts out as seeming like magic realism ends up somewhere unexpected. And a good performance by Natalie Naudus.