An American soldier works in post-surrender Japan in a novel “reminiscent of The English Patient . . . sad, wistful and romantic” (Los Angeles Times).
When Francis Vancleave joins the army in 1944, he expects his term of service to pass uneventfully. His singular talent—typing ninety-five words a minute—keeps him off the battlefield and in General MacArthur’s busy Tokyo headquarters, where his days are filled with paperwork in triplicate and letters of dictation.
But little does Van know that the first year of the occupation will prove far more volatile for him than for the US Army. When he’s bunked with a troubled combat veteran-cum-black marketer and recruited to babysit MacArthur’s eight-year-old son, Van is suddenly tangled in the complex—and risky—personal lives of his compatriots. As he brushes shoulders with panpan girls and Communists on the streets of Tokyo, Van struggles to uphold his convictions in the face of unexpected conflict—especially the startling news from his war bride, a revelation that threatens Van with a kind of war wound he never anticipated.
“Tells the story of generals, war, and occupation through the eyes of a typist who proves himself to be the calm at the center of the storm . . . [An] elegant, thoughtful, and resonant novel.” —Ann Patchett
“A memorable read.” —Chicago Tribune