MILTON A. MURAYAMA

Posted On August 20th, 2016 -

$nameMILTON A. MURAYAMA April 10, 1923 - July 27, 2016 Author Milton A. Murayama, whose imagination captured the stories of immigrants who crossed the Pacific Ocean to the sugar plantations in the Hawaiian Islands more than a hundred years ago, died on July 27th. Milton Atsushi was the fourth of eight children born to Isao and Sawa Murayama, Japanese immigrants who migrated from Fukuoka, Japan to the Pu'ukoli'i Sugar Plantation Camp in 1912. Milton was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Edwin Takeshi and Frank Sadamu, and sisters Kazue and Aileen Futaba Higuchi. He is survived by his wife Dawn, sisters Nancy Nobue Tateyama and Ann Tsuneko Kashiwa, brother Dalton Kiyoshi and wife Karen, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Milton graduated with honors from Lahainaluna High School. During his first year at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, he witnessed the early days of WW II and volunteered for the U.S. Army. Following his training at the Military Intelligence Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota, Milton served as an interpreter for the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) in India, China and Taiwan for the duration of the war. After serving in the military, Milton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Hawai'i and his Master of Arts in Chinese and Japanese from Columbia University. He lived in Minneapolis, New York City and Washington, D.C. before settling in San Francisco where he worked for the U.S. Customs. He continued to pursue his passion for writing fiction. He was a prolific writer about the Japanese and other immigrants who struggled to adjust to a sugar plantation lifestyle. Milton is known for his tetralogy: All I Asking for Is My Body (1975), Five Years on a Rock (1994), Plantation Boy (1998), and Dying in a Strange Land (2008). His last manuscript, Odds and Ends, was finished a few weeks before his death. In addition to novels, Milton wrote short stories, magazine articles and plays. His three plays include: Althea, based on the 1930s sensational Massie case in Honolulu and had readings in San Francisco. Yoshitsune, a historical play, was performed in Honolulu. All I Asking for Is My Body, an adaptation of Milton's first novel, was performed in San Francisco and Honolulu. In 1980 Milton won the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation for All I Asking for Is My Body. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious Hawaii Award for Literature in recognition of his many accomplishments as an outstanding writer and encourager of that art. He also received the Ka Palapala Po'okela awards for excellence in writing for Five Years on a Rock in 1995 and for Plantation Boy in 1999. Several years ago, a journalist asked Milton how he would like to be remembered. Milton replied, "I'd like to be remembered as a writer with a distinctive voice who created a truthful portrait of a certain time and place." He lived his vision. He was a thinker, a storyteller, a writer, and a wordsmith to the end.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran