Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
Faculty on Leave of Absence, MFA in Creative Writing Program
Residency Site: Plainfield VT
Rahna Reiko Rizzuto is the author of the memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning, a National Book Critics Circle Finalist, an Asian American Literary Award Finalist, a Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominee, and the winner of the Grub Street National Book Award. Her first novel, Why She Left Us, won an American Book Award in 2000. She is also a recipient of the U.S./Japan Creative Artist Fellowship, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. She was Associate Editor of The NuyorAsian Anthology: Asian American Writings About New York City. She has been interviewed widely on motherhood including on The Today Show, 20/20,and The View. Reiko’s articles on motherhood, Hiroshima, the Japanese internment camps and radiation poisoning have been published globally, including in the L.A. Times, Guardian UK, CNN Opinion, and Salon, and through the Progressive Media Project and The Huffington Post, and have been anthologized in Mothers Who Think, Because I Said So, and Topography of War, among others. She was a judge for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction in 2015. Reiko is a Hedgebrook alumna, and has taught master classes and at Vortext for Hedgebrook. She is Japanese/Caucasian and was raised in Hawaii.
BA in Astrophysics, Columbia University
Areas of Expertise
Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Young Adult
My first novel was inspired by my discovery (at the age of 30) that my Japanese-American mother and her family had been interned by their own country during World War II in the Japanese-American internment camps. My journey to, and through, that novel was the beginning of my own exploration of war, race, and historical blindness, and our highly individual quests for peace – all of which now lie very much at the center of my writing and my life.
After my novel came out, I was awarded a U.S. Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and went to live in Hiroshima, Japan to seek out survivors of the atomic bombings for my next novel. I was living in Japan and was in the midst of conducting this research on September 11, 2001, when my own family was in New York trying to deal with the terrorist attacks. My second book is a memoir, threaded with the voices of the atomic bomb survivors I interviewed, about how those two “wars” collided from my perspective as a writer, an expatriate, and a mother.
As a teacher and advisor, I am interested in structure, memory, trauma, race, and in the use of historical research in fiction and creative non-fiction. I came to prose from science (I majored in astrophysics in college) and taught myself to write. I believe in reading, and in learning to analyze what you read so that you will always be surrounded by teachers on your bookshelves who will answer any question for you. I also take a pragmatic approach: learning the rules and conventions so they can be broken with abandon, even turned upside down. I encourage my advisees to find the unique urgency and heart in their work, and then tease out the surprises and idiosyncrasies that belong to each alone. I am also very interested in writing from the margins, whether social, racial, gender-based, or fill-in-the-convention. I believe we all have a story – more than one – and a unique voice, and that our stories are important to the world: expanding our concepts of who we are in society and culture, and who we can be when we allow ourselves to explore the world outside of expectations and find our authentic selves. I look forward to working with students at all stages of their development and growth.
My website is www.rahnareikorizzuto.com.
- Hiroshima in the MorningThe Feminist Press2010
- Why She Left UsPerennial2000
- The Nuyorasian Anthology: Asian American Writings on New York City (Co-Editor) Asian American Writers' Workshop1999
- VortextMay 20, 2016 9:00 am
- Panel: Home as Heart and Hearth: Stories and IdeasMarch 1, 2016 6:00 pm