Author David Guterson

Author David Guterson: Looking Back, Warily, But with Affection

March 22
Sunday @ 1:00 p.m.

As an adjunct to BPA’s March presentation of SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, Bainbridge Performing Arts is very pleased to welcome David Guterson for a special pre-show presentation. Twenty years after the first publication of Snow Falling on Cedars, its author reflects back on the influences, ideals, and ambitions that led to its writing and what the book means to him now.

It took Guterson five years to write Snow Falling on Cedars, in part because he was teaching full time at Bainbridge High School, and in part because of the extensive research he did on salmon fishing, strawberry farming and the internment. To describe the anti-Japanese hysteria that prevailed in the 1940's, he steeped himself in about 600 pages of oral histories compiled by elderly internees for the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Community Association. And while the fictitious San Piedro Island of Snow Falling on Cedars drifts at some distance from Bainbridge -- on a real map of Puget Sound it would lie in the San Juan Islands -- it is populated by some authentic Bainbridge characters. The literary model for the book, however, was more remote -- Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1960 novel Guterson regularly assigned to his high school English classes. 

Guterson, then 39, received the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for Snow Falling on Cedars – a remarkable achievement for a first novel. Even more remarkable was the fact that it went on to be not only a critical but also a commercial success: with over four millions copies sold, it has generated a Hollywood film, a stage play, and countless high school student essays. Ironically, it is his novel that is now showing up in high school curricula – if it hasn’t been banned.

Reading Snow Falling on Cedars twenty years later, Guterson encountered an unexpected mixture of emotions. He will share these, along with reflections on how the book was written, with Bainbridge Islanders on March 22 before the matinee performance of the play.

SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS Community & Educational Outreach
Thanks to the passion and generosity of numerous collaborators on BPA’s Educational and Community Outreach Program, we are pleased to announce a menu of pre-show and post-show events - beginning February 14. Please join us for an openhearted “conversation” surrounding exclusion, intolerance, history, and community.

Photo: Tom Collicott



Sponsor: The Maggi Rogers Fund

SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS is supported in part by a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

BPA's outreach programs for SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS are supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.



Author David Guterson

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