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Masumoto, David Mas 1954-

MASUMOTO, David Mas 1954-

PERSONAL: Born January 20, 1954, in Selma, CA. Education: Attended International Christian University, 1974-75; University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1976; University of California, Davis, M.S., 1982.

ADDRESSES: Home—Del Rey, CA. Office—c/o Author Mail, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110.

CAREER: Writer and third-generation farmer, 1982—. Member of board of directors and founder of California Clean; member of board of directors of Irvine Foundation.

MEMBER: California Council for the Humanities, California Tree Fruit Agreement research board, Raisin Advisory Committee research board, California Association of Family Farmers (founding member).

AWARDS, HONORS: James Clavell Japanese American National Literary Award, 1986; Julia Child Cookbook Award in the literary food writing category, 1995, for Epitaph for a Peach; finalist for James Beard Foundation Food Writing Award, 1996; San Francisco Review of Books Critics Choice award, 1995-96; Breadloaf Writers Conference fellowship, 1996; Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal, California Book Awards, 1999, for Harvest Son.

WRITINGS:

Silent Strength (stories), New Currents International (Tokyo, Japan), 1985.

Country Voices (oral history), Inaka Countryside (Del Rey, CA), 1987.

Epitaph for a Peach (nonfiction), HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1995.

Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1998.

Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2003.

Letters to the Valley: A Harvest of Memories, Heyday Books (Berkeley, CA), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: David Mas Masumoto is a farmer of fine fruits who also writes beautiful, lyrical prose about his life with his family on their farm in Del Rey, California. In his first major work, Epitaph for a Peach, Masumoto explores his commitment to the land and to his family. "Anyone who thinks farming is dull will have that view corrected by Mr. Masumoto's charming and often exciting tale," contended Phoebe-Lou Adams in the Atlantic, "and anyone who deplores the disappearance of truly good fruit will share his distress over the substitution of mere endurance for fine quality." This book is an account of the author's battle to farm on his own terms, raise the kind of fine fruit that has virtually no market or shelf-life, and preserve the cohesive multi-age lifestyle and work team that his family has enjoyed for three generations. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Epitaph "a peach of a book, as delectable as the Sun Crest Peach Masumoto is struggling to save."

Masumoto's Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil is a memoir in which he reflects on life on his family's California farm. He presents a history of his family, beginning with his grandfather's arrival in 1899 from Japan. Booklist's Brian McCombie called Harvest Son "an affecting memoir," a book that relates the experiences and insights that brought the author to an understanding that his family and the deep connection to the land he loves are the "glue that holds his life together." Readers of Harvest Son will experience "an evocative and lyrical pleasure," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who went on to say that in the book "metaphors of sowing, cultivating, and reaping conjoin to describe the deepest roots of sustenance and nurturing found in families."

In Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring the author takes readers into his fields to witness the cycle of the harvest and remind readers to slow down and savor the world around them. In Four Seasons Masumoto brings the land to life for the reader, sharing his passion for his work, his writing, his family, and his heritage. "Most enchanting are his brief essays on family members," remarked a Kirkus Review critic. One of these essays, "Scent of My Father," reports on his father's tendency to smell like freshly cut grass, mud, and sweat. The Kirkus Reviews critic noted that the essay "pays moving homage to the ties of earth and blood," and concluded that the book is "intense, sensuous, lyrical, shaped by the sensibility of a poet and the eye of a farmer."

"I write about place and the power of family, community, and tradition," Masumoto told CA. "I work with the land and the people who call rural America home. I live on a farm with my family and consider myself a farmer first, and writer a close second."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Atlantic, December, 1998, review of Harvest Sun: Planting Roots in American Soil, p. 118; January, 1995, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of Epitaph for a Peach, p. 98.

Bloomsbury Review, January, 1999, review of Harvest Son, p. 20.

Booklist, May 15, 1995, Sue-Ellen Beauregard, review of Epitaph for a Peach, p. 1621; October 15, 1998, Brian McCombie, review of Harvest Son, p. 383; November 1, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring, p. 464.

Economist, December 12, 1998, review of Harvest Son, p. 11.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1998, review of Harvest Son, p. 1266; October 1, 2002, review of Four Seasons in Five Senses, p. 1450.

Library Journal, September 15, 1998, Irwin Weintraub, review of Harvest Son, p. 102.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 23, 1996, review of Epitaph for a Peach, p. 15; September 27, 1998, review of Harvest Son, p. 11.

Publishers Weekly, May 22, 1995, review of Epitaph for a Peach, p. 45; September 7, 1998, review of Harvest Son, p. 74.

Washington Post Book World, January 10, 1999, review of Harvest Son, p. 7.

Whole Earth Review, spring, 1998, review of Epitaph for a Peach, p. 35.

online

California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc. Web site, http://www.crfg.org/ (November 22, 2003), Linda Kincaid, review of Four Seasons in Five Senses.

David Mas Masumoto Web site, http://www.masumoto.com/ (November 22, 2003).

W. W. Norton Web site, http://www.wwnorton.com/ (November 22, 2003).*

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