Crossing Borders, The Immigrant Voice in American Literature
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Panelist, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston Jeanne (Toyo) Wakatsuki Houston was born September 26, 1934 in Inglewood California. She is the daughter of first and second-generation Japanese American parents. Her father Ko, a fisherman, was born in Hiroshima while her mother Riku was born in Hawaii. Jeanne and her family were detained at Manzanar, a Japanese internment camp, during World War II. After their release from the camp in 1945 Jeanne's brothers and sisters moved to the East Coast while Jeanne and her parents moved back to California. Several years after the war Jeanne entered the University of San Jose. While attending the University, Jeanne studied sociology and journalism. During her college years Jeanne met her husband James D. Houston. The couple married in 1957. Between 1955-57 Jeanne worked as a group worker as well as a juvenile probation officer in San Mateo, California. Soon after leaving her job Jeanne left for France where she studied at the Sorbonne as well as the University of Paris. During this point in her life Jeanne started to focus on her writing. In 1973 her book Farewell to Manzanar was published. The screenplay for the book was written in 1976. In 1984 she wrote Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder with Paul G. Hensler. She published Beyond Manzanar and other views of Asian-American Womanhood in 1985. Jeanne is also the author of the teleplay "Barrio" with her husband James D. Houston. Jeanne has won a number of awards including the Humanities Prize and the Christopher Award both for the screenplay Farewell to Manzanar as well as an award from the National Women's Political Caucus and the Wonder Woman award both in 1984. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, California with James and their children Corinne, Joshua and Gabrielle.

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