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Whatcom READS!

Snow Falling on Cedars book jacket

RELEASE DATE: December 6, 2012

Contact: Christine Perkins
Bellingham Public Library
(360) 778-7206


This year's Whatcom READS! selection has something for everyone -- history, romance, a courtroom drama, a murder mystery -- even a local setting. It's Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, and there's still time to read it (or re-read it) before the author visits Whatcom County in February. What page are you on? 

Set on an island in Puget Sound in the 1950s, Snow Falling on Cedars begins in a courtroom. Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, stands trial for the murder of Carl Heine, Jr. A newspaper reporter looks on while reminiscing about his childhood relationship with the accused man's wife. Prosecutors present the possible motive: anger over the sale of land promised to Kabuo's father but lost while the Miyamoto family was interned at Manzanar during World War II.

"This novel is ripe for discussion, and that is exactly what Whatcom READS! is all about," said Suzanne Carlson-Prandini, a Bellingham Public Library staff member who will be leading an interactive book club with the author on February 19. Readers will have the chance to explore themes of racism, loyalty, and ethics with David Guterson at the Bellingham Public Library from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. that day. That evening, Guterson will give an author talk at the Jansen Art Center in Lynden. On Wednesday, February 20, Guterson will speak at Whatcom Community College at 7:30 p.m. He will also present "The Art and Craft of Writing" at Western Washington University on Thursday, February 21. All events are free of charge and open to the public.

Whatcom READS!, now in its 5th year, is presented by every public and academic library in Whatcom County and Village Books, with financial support from the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library Foundation.

The goal of Whatcom READS! is to encourage everyone in Whatcom County to read and discuss the same book. Organizers have planned numerous book discussions and supplemental events to further explore topics raised in Snow Falling on Cedars. Of note this year is a panel discussion on "The Japanese-American Experience During World War II" to be held at the Bellingham Public Library on Saturday, January 12. Invited speakers include people whose families were interned, a woman whose father volunteered for the 442nd infantry, a regiment consisting almost entirely of Japanese-American soldiers, and a woman whose father was a camp supervisor.

For a more academic perspective, Professor Robert Keller will present "Reconciling the Past: The History, Literature and Ethics of Japanese Removal" on Tuesday, January 22 at the Fairhaven Branch Library and again on Saturday, February 9 at the Blaine Library. Professor Keller will illuminate the debate over forced Japanese removal and its impact on how we view civil rights amidst security crises today. He asks, "How has the memory of internment affected treatment of Arab-Americans following 9/11?"

Readers who also like films will enjoy a special screening of Snow Falling on Cedars at the Pickford Film Center at 7:30 p.m. on February 13.

For details and a complete calendar of events, visit

Copies of Snow Falling on Cedars may be borrowed from any library in Bellingham or Whatcom County. You can also reserve a book club kit so your book group can read the novel together before attending one of the author presentations. Alternately, you can purchase the book at local bookstores including Village Books. Join the discussion!


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