The first American novel by a writer of Japanese ancestry, “The American Diary of a Japanese Girl” is a landmark of modern American fiction and Japanese-American transnationalism. First published in 1902, Yone Noguchi’s novel describes the turn-of-the-century adventures of Tokyo belle Miss Morning Glory in a first-person narrative that the “New York Times” called “perfectly ingenuous and unconventional.” Initially published as an authentic journal, the Diary was later revealed to be a playful autobiographical fiction written by a man. No less than her creator, Miss Morning Glory delights in disguises, unabashedly switching gender, class, and ethnic roles. Targeting the American fantasy of Madame Butterfly, Noguchi’s New Woman heroine prays for “something more decent than a marriage offer,” and freely dispenses her insights on Japanese culture and American lifestyles. With the addition of perceptive critical commentary and comprehensive notes, this first annotated edition sheds new light on the creative inventiveness of an important modernist writer.
Yoné Noguchi was an influential Japanese writer of poetry, fiction, essays, and literary criticism in both English and Japanese. He was the father of the sculptor Isamu Noguchi.