Camp Nine is narrated by twelve-year-old Cecelia “Chess” Morton, who is struggling to find her place in the insular world of the Arkansas Delta in the early 1940s. Her life is confined to the small town of Rook, in a county that is owned almost entirely by her wealthy, white grandparents. Though she lives in an area with sharp racial divides, Chess only begins to see the daily injustice when a “relocation center” for Japanese-Americans is built just down the road.
“I know that Camp Nine was something that should never have been. It destroyed lives and separated families; it interrupted joys and brought, in their stead, wretched sorrows. But the experience was mine, too. On a deeper level than I had ever understood, Camp Nine had defined my life. The misery of thousands had shone a light on who I was, on who we all were, here in the Delta.”
Camp Nine is Vivienne Schiffer‘s first novel, and is based on the Rohwer War Relocation Center, which was built adjacent to her family’s farm in Arkansas. Schiffer has worked as lawyer for many years in Texas, and is also a filmmaker. She is currently working on a documentary about the Rohwer camp.
Length: 191 pages
Set in: Arkansas, United States
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