A fascinating interview with a freedom fighter for minority rights


Sumii Sue (1902-97), author and human rights leader, was best known for her novel about childhood in a burakumin village, The River with No Bridge (Hashi no nai kawa). The burakumin, who had been a lower caste in the highly stratified society of feudal Japan, were still suffering severe discrimination when Sumii's book was published in 1961. Over 8.3 million copies of the book and its sequels have been sold.This book, My Life: Living, Loving, and Fighting, is an interview with Sumii Sue conducted by her daughter, Masuda Reiko, a reporter and editorialist for the Mainichi Shimbun and a well-known writer. Masuda succeeds in eliciting details of daily life and personal relationships that give us a wonderful picture of this courageous woman and her fighting temperament, her pride in her achievements, and her self-effacement. My Life is also a fascinating document of social history, describing the conditions of life in twentieth-century Japan as Sumii experienced it: the poverty of sharecroppers, the political movements of the 1920s, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and life on the home front during World War II. The interview was conducted in 1994, when Sumii was ninety-two years old and starting to work on volume eight of The River with No Bridge

Masuda Reiko is a reporter and editorialist for the Mainichi Shimbun.Livia Monnet is Professor of Comparative Literature at the Université de Montréal. She earned her PhD from the University of Vienna, and has taught at the University of H