Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi

Queer CompulsionsWhile confessing his love to fellow writer Charles Warren Stoddard, Yone Noguchi (1875–1947) had a child (future sculptor Isamu Noguchi) with his editor, Léonie Gilmour; became engaged to Washington Post reporter Ethel Armes; and upon his return to Japan married Matsu Takeda—all within a span of seven years. According to Amy Sueyoshi’s Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi, Noguchi was not a dedicated polyamorist: He deliberately deceived the three women, to whom he either pretended or promised marriage while already married. Sueyoshi argues further that Noguchi’s intimacies point to little-known realities of race and sexuality in turn-of-the-century America and illuminate how Asian immigrants negotiated America’s literary and arts community. As Noguchi maneuvered through cultural and linguistic differences, his affairs additionally assert how Japanese in America could forge romantic fulfillment during a period historians describe as one of extreme sexual deprivation and discrimination for Asians, particularly in California.

“There is no question that Amy Sueyoshi is a very gifted historian who has mined every available source on Yone Noguchi. Her work is as exhaustive and deep in its interrogation of the extant literature as one could possibly hope for. Moreover, it has placed the life history of Yone Noguchi in a broad sweep of various fields of academic inquiry that gives his particular experiences relevance well beyond the field of Asian American history. The story of this rather unknown and unremarkable poet is rife with intellectual and academic meaning well beyond the significance of a late nineteenth-century historical biography.” —Tomas Almaguer, San Francisco State University

February 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3497-5 / $40.00 (CLOTH)