From Versailles to China and back
Author's local connection showcased in new release
Wanda English Burnett- Editor
Inspiration for Linda Furiyas first published book came
from her childhood memories growing up in Versailles. The new
release titled "Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood
in Whitebread America", is a story about a girl trying to
balance the outside world of Midwestern America with the Japanese
traditions of her home life.
Furiyas parents, James Ichiro and Teruko Furiya, migrated
from Japan and while insisting their children speak English in
public, they carried on traditions from their country in their
modest home on Perry Street.
In her book, which revolves around food, Furiya tells how food
made her realize the difference between her and other classmates
at Versailles Elementary. She talks about her first day of school
when she longed for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but had
to deal with the rice balls and chopsticks her mom had packed
for her. After each chapter she shares recipes from the homeland.
The accomplished author is well versed on the subject of Asian
cuisine from her first-hand life experiences. She tells how her
parents would have to drive several miles to find some of the
ingredients to make dishes, but when it was all said and done,
they would be worth the effort.
Furiya has carried on the tradition of fine culinary dining, having
taught cooking classes, writing a food column for the San Francisco
Chronicle, and having attended a Chinese culinary school while
in Shanghai. She notes her first recipe development actually took
place at the Ripley County 4-H Fair where she took home a blue
ribbon for her chocolate chip cookie recipe.
A life far removed from the sleepy community in southeastern Indiana,
Furiya has many experiences to share from her many travels. She
is a talented writer with her work showcased in a self-syndicated
column From Where I Stand that was published for five
years in Japanese American and Canadian newspapers in San Diego,
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Montreal and
She moved to Beijing China in 1996 where she wrote travel and
food related articles as well as a sex advice column. She then
moved back to the San Francisco area where she says she got her
lucky break and began writing for the Chronicle. In
2000, Furiya returned to China, this time to Pearl of Asia, Shanghai,
where she wrote her food column, travel articles, attended a Chinese
culinary school and began her first draft of what would become
"Bento Box In the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread
America". She returned to the states in 2004, along with
her son and in 2005 moved to Vermont. Her first book was released
in January of 2007 and is now making its way to her hometown.
Kelly Garcia of Versailles, was a classmate and friend of Furiya
and has remained in contact with her over the years. We
lost contact for a while, but have been in touch over the past
few years, Garcia noted. The two graduated from South Ripley
High School in 1984 after going through their entire school years
While growing up, Furiyas parents insisted she and her older
brothers, Alvin and Keven, speak English. She writes that she
and her brothers shared a unique bilingual interchange with
our parents. She explained that their parents would talk
to them in Japanese and they in turn would respond in English.
The authors father would speak English at work, but Japanese
When Furiya was 12 years old, she said her mother offered to take
her to Japan if she could learn to read and write hiragana and
katakana. With a workbook from her uncle, George Furiya, she learned
enough to gain the trip. In later life, the Purdue University
graduate took a class to better learn how to communicate
the Japanese language with her parents and future children.
The Bookshelf, located at 101 N. Walnut Street in Batesville,
has Furiyas book in stock. Weve sold quite a
few of them. If we dont have it, we can get it in just a
couple of days, noted Chris Fairchild, owner of the store.
You can contact the book store at 934-5800 or 1-800-803-4400.
Described as an insightful and reflective coming-of-age
tale, "Bento Box in the Heartland" is beautifully
written, each chapter accompanied by a family recipe of mouth-watering
Japanese comfort food.
Stop in at The Bookshelf to purchase a copy of this extraordinary
compilation of childhood memories, recipes and more.
SHELLY ARTHUR PHOTO
Nestled among hundreds of other titles to choose from,
Chris Fairchild, owner of The Bookshelf at Batesville,
holds her latest book for purchase, "Bento Box in
the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America."
The book is written by a former Versailles resident, Linda
Furiya (pictured below) and gives a glimpse of what it's
like to grow up in the only Asian family in Versailles.
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