Adachi, Jiro 1965-
ADACHI, Jiro 1965-
ADDRESSES: Offıce—New School University, 66 West 12th St., New York, NY 10011.
CAREER: New School University, New York, NY, English as a second language (ESL) coordinator; Yeshiva University, New York, adjunct instructor in English; instructor in writing and in English as a foreign language at other schools, including Colorado State University, Hunter College, Stern College for Women, and the School of Visual Arts. Also worked as a bicycle messenger in New York, NY.
The Island of Bicycle Dancers (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: "Unique" is a word frequently used to describe Jiro Adachi's first novel, The Island of Bicycle Dancers. It also describes Adachi's own personal history, on which he drew extensively when writing the novel. Adachi, a native New Yorker, is the son of a Japanese father and a Hungarian mother. His main career has been as a teacher of English as a foreign language, although he also worked as a Manhattan bicycle messenger for a time.
Adachi's protagonist in The Island of Bicycle Dancers, twenty-year-old Yurika Song, is also half-Japanese. Her family forms part of the Korean diaspora in Japan, and because of her mixed ethnicity she has always been regarded with suspicion in her native Kawasaki. When her parents, weary from dealing with her rebellious nature, send Yurika to New York to live with her Korean uncle, she is hopeful that she will be more accepted in such a multicultural city. As she works in her uncle's East Village convenience store and struggles to improve her English, Yurika becomes intrigued with the bicycle messengers who frequently come into the store for drinks during their shifts. She eventually becomes friends with one of them—Whitey, an Ivy League drop-out with an interest in Eastern religions—and lovers with another, called Bone. Other characters include Yurika's cousin Suzie, another rebellious, disaffected youth; and Yurika's aunt, Hyun Jeong, who dislikes and distrusts her young niece. The Island of Bicycle Dancers could "have been overcome with details, as there are several interesting storylines," Sarah Rachel Egelman commented in a Bookreporter. com reviewe, but "Adachi controls his story and characters with a seemingly natural ease."
Adachi's varied life and career experiences pervade his tale. "Bicycles, their parts and repair, become both important plot points and metaphors, and the smell of bicycle grease seems also to rise from the pages of the book," Mike Street wrote in Asian Reporter. Drawing on his career as a teacher, Adachi uses his intimate knowledge of the process of learning English as an adult to write what a Publishers Weekly reviewer termed "the most rewarding thread of the novel: Yurika's fascination with the English language." Adachi's "voice is surprisingly sure, especially for a first-time writer," Street concluded, "and we can expect more good things from this adept, cross-cultural author."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Asian Reporter, July 6, 2004, Mike Street, review of The Island of Bicycle Dancers, p. 11.
Booklist, January 1, 2004, Denise Hoover, review of The Island of Bicycle Dancers, p. 818.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003, review of TheIsland of Bicycle Dancers, p. 1325.
Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Ron Samul, review of The Island of Bicycle Dancers, p. 120.
New York Times, March 14, 2004, Jiro Adachi, "The Miseducation of Jackie Chan," p. 3; April 18, 2004, review of The Island of Bicycle Dancers, p. 10.
Publishers Weekly, January 5, 2004, review of TheIsland of Bicycle Dancers, p. 38.
Washington Post Book World, March 7, 2004, Maud Newton, review of The Island of Bicycle Dancers, p. 13.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 13, 2004), Sarah Rachel Egelman, review of The Island of Bicycle Dancers.
Halvsie Web site,http://blog.halvsie.com/ (August 8, 2004), "Halvsie Novelist Jiro Adachi."
New School University Web site,http://www.newschool.edu/ (spring-summer, 2004), "Parsons's Jiro Adachi Releases a New Novel."