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Julie Shigekuni (born 1962) is an American writer and professor. Her novels include A Bridge Between Us, Invisible Gardens, Unending Nora, and In Plain View, and she has won a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. She is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico.

Julie Shigekuni
Born1962 (age 56–57)
Panorama City, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Writer
  • professor
EducationHunter College
Alma materSarah Lawrence College
Notable works
  • A Bridge Between Us
  • Unending Nora
Notable awardsPEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award

Early life and educationEdit

Julie Shigekuni was born in 1962 in the Panorama City neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.[1] She is a fifth-generation Japanese-American.[2] As a teenager she lived in Japan and worked for a newspaper in Tokyo.[3] She attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, Friends World College (Tokyo, London), CUNY City College and later earned her B.A. from Hunter College, and in 1990 received her M.F.A. in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.[4][5]


Shigekuni's first novel, A Bridge Between Us, was published by Anchor Books in 1995.[6] The book tells the story of four generations of a Japanese-American family full of what the New York Times called "strong women who are not above being cruel to their loved ones and unreliable men who come and go in the lives of their wives and children".[2] The San Francisco Chronicle called the book "an intense and introspective book, written in limpid and economical prose".[7] In 1997 Shigekuni won a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award.[8]

Eight years after the publication of her first novel, Shigekuni's second novel Invisible Gardens, about a history professor who has an affair with her colleague, was published by Thomas Dunne Books.[9] Critic Michele Ross, writing for The Plain Dealer, noted that Shigekuni "wants to illustrate the unspoken parts of a life" but assessed the book as "symbolism and metaphors run amok".[10] Five years later Unending Nora, Shigekuni's novel about Japanese American internment during World War II told from the perspective of children whose parents had been relocated into camps, was published in 2008.[11] Unending Nora received a 2010 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award Honorable Mention for Prose/Poetry.[12]

Shigekuni's novel In Plain View, a mystery thriller that the Los Angeles Review of Books called "an intriguing psychological dissection of a woman whose lack of a fixed identity sweeps her into dangerous territory", was published in 2016 by The Unnamed Press.[13] Publishers Weekly summarized the book as a "well-written if enigmatic tale".[14]

Shigekuni has taught at Santa Fe Community College, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and Mills College, and is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico.[4] In 2018 Shigekuni, along with fellow female UNM professors, sued the University of New Mexico for violating the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 by paying female professors less than their male counterparts.[15] The lawsuit also claimed that the university's unequal pay structure violated New Mexico state laws, including the Fair Pay for Women Act and the New Mexico Human Rights Act.[16]



  • Shigekuni, Julie (1995). A Bridge Between Us. Anchor Books. ISBN 978-0-385-47678-2.
  • Shigekuni, Julie (2003). Invisible Gardens. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-31183-4.
  • Shigekuni, Julie (2008). Unending Nora. Red Hen Press. ISBN 978-1-59709-122-0.
  • Shigekuni, Julie (2016). In Plain View. The Unnamed Press. ISBN 978-1-939419-98-9.


  1. ^ Xu, Wenying (2012). Historical Dictionary of Asian American Literature and Theater. Scarecrow Press. pp. 244–245. ISBN 978-0-8108-7394-0.
  2. ^ a b Shea, Lisa (March 19, 1995). "Not Above a Little Cruelty". The New York Times Book Review. p. BR7.
  3. ^ Steinberg, David (June 25, 1995). "'Bridge' Author Felt Like Outsider Living in Japan". Albuquerque Journal. p. C13.
  4. ^ a b "Julie Shigekuni". Department of English Language and Literature. University of New Mexico. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  5. ^ "Notable Alumni: The Arts". Sarah Lawrence College. Archived from the original on October 7, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ Lee, A.R. (2008). China Fictions, English Language: Literary Essays in Diaspora, Memory, Story. Text (Rodopi (Firm))). Rodopi. p. 41. ISBN 978-90-420-2351-2. Retrieved 9 April 2019. Julie Shigekuni is another example. Her first novel, A Bridge Between Us (1995), focuses almost exclusively on mother-daughter relationships, and at times seems to almost selfconsciously echo the formal and thematic preoccupations of Tan's ...
  7. ^ Janah, Monua (June 4, 1995). "Four Generations Under One Roof / Women in a Japanese American family share a home in San Francisco". San Francisco Chronicle. p. 9.
  8. ^ "PEN Honors Multicultural Literature". Oakland Post. June 4, 1997. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Invisible Gardens". Publishers Weekly. June 23, 2003. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Ross, Michele (June 29, 2003). "Symbolism and metaphors run amok in familiar plot". The Plain Dealer. p. J11.
  11. ^ Montanarelli, Lisa (2009). "Unending Nora by Julie Shigekuni". Colorado Review. 36 (3): 170–173. doi:10.1353/col.2009.0059.
  12. ^ "AAAS Award Winners". Association for Asian American Studies. Archived from the original on October 7, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  13. ^ Fay, Kim (March 13, 2017). "Relying on Others for a Sense of Self". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  14. ^ "In Plain View". Publishers Weekly. September 26, 2016. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  15. ^ Washington, Francesca (June 11, 2018). "UNM professors suing university over unequal pay". KRQE. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  16. ^ Dyer, Jessica (June 19, 2018). "Lawsuit claims UNM violated Equal Pay Act". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "PEN Oakland Awards & Winners". PEN Oakland. Retrieved October 7, 2018.