Floating City
Citizen Kane reimagined, a novel about ambition and the relentless desire to belong, from the author of the Commonwealth Prize-winning and Governor General's Literary Award-nominated The Electrical Field .Frankie Hanesaka isn't afraid of a little hard work. An industrious boy, if haunted by the mysterious figures of his mother's past in Japan, he grows up in a floating house in the harbour of Port Alberni, BC. With all the Japanese bachelors passing through town to work in the logging camps and lumber mills, maybe he could build a hotel on the water, too. Make a few dollars. But then the war comes, and Frankie finds himself in a mountain internment camp, his small dreams of success dashed by the great tides of history. After the war, Frankie tries his luck in Toronto, where possibility awaits in the form of a patron who teaches him how to turn effort into money, and a starry-eyed architect who teaches Frankie something harder to come by: the ability to dream big. Buckminster Fuller's role as Frankie's outsized spiritual mentor is one of just many real-life touchstones and extraordinary points of colour in this fairytale-like story about family, ambition and the costs of turning our backs on history and home.

Floating City Details

TitleFloating City
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 17th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Canada
ISBN-139780345809896
Rating
GenreCultural, Canada, Fiction

Floating City Review

  • Jaclyn
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. So often, books about immigrants pursuing the 'American Dream' and becoming a 'Master of Industry' feature white men; this is the first time I can think of that I've seen the story told with a Japanese-Canadian man. Floating City is about a man driven by ambition, often to the detriment of his loved ones, and like many ambitious heroes, Frankie Hanesaka ends up sacrificing a lot to achieve his dreams. There's something Gatsby-esque about Frankie -- he's a charismatic, brillian I loved this book. So often, books about immigrants pursuing the 'American Dream' and becoming a 'Master of Industry' feature white men; this is the first time I can think of that I've seen the story told with a Japanese-Canadian man. Floating City is about a man driven by ambition, often to the detriment of his loved ones, and like many ambitious heroes, Frankie Hanesaka ends up sacrificing a lot to achieve his dreams. There's something Gatsby-esque about Frankie -- he's a charismatic, brilliant man who appears successful on so many levels, yet there's a melancholy emptiness that just won't go away. There's also a lot that's specifically Japanese-Canadian about Frankie's character -- I love the tension between his ambitions to take over Toronto real estate and the ever-looming significance of the number four in his life. In Japanese writing, similar to Chinese writing, the symbol for four is also the symbol for death, so the number four is seen as particularly unlucky. There's a moment where he completes his masterpiece building, and his contractor is thrilled to have gotten two extra steps in, but the triumph is marred by the realization that the number of steps has now become divisible by four. I can imagine my Chinese grandmother reacting similar to how Frankie's mother did, and I loved the realism of this moment.I thought Sakamoto did a good job depicting the fear and racism that Frankie and his family went through around the time of WWII -- particularly powerful was a moment where a Chinese-Canadian neighbour and friend illustrated a poster about the difference between "honest" Chinese-Canadians like himself and "sneaky Japs" like one of his Japanese-Canadian neighbours. It's definitely an unjust and racist action, but I can sympathize as well with the Chinese-Canadian man's desire to protect himself and his family from the hatred Japanese-Canadians were facing.I also liked how Frankie Hanesaka felt the need to rename himself "Frank Hanes" to do business. I thought it was a realistic portrayal of how persons of colour often feel the need to assimilate to survive. Sakamoto wrote about an incident where a man refused to do business with Frankie, but quickly agreed to the deal when it was presented by someone who wasn't Japanese-Canadian.Sakamoto also does a great job in drawing parallels between discrimination and injustice faced by different communities, particularly with the characters of Uri Slonemsky and his wife Hannah, who took Frankie under their wing because, as Jews, they could understand the discrimination Japanese-Canadians experienced. I found this passage particularly powerful: "No one else would hire the Japanese. Only the Jews extended a helping hand, having received so few themselves." (p. 78)Overall, a compelling story, beautifully told.
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a work of historical fiction that tells the life of Frankie Hanesaka. Frankie, later calling himself Frank Hanes is an industrious boy who grows up in Port Alberni, BC, and whose family gets moved to a Japanese internment camp during WWII. When the war is over, he is able to move to Toronto, leaving his family behind, in order to try and earn enough money to have his family eventually come with him.Frankie's ambition is to eventually build a floating city. He learns some tricks of t This book is a work of historical fiction that tells the life of Frankie Hanesaka. Frankie, later calling himself Frank Hanes is an industrious boy who grows up in Port Alberni, BC, and whose family gets moved to a Japanese internment camp during WWII. When the war is over, he is able to move to Toronto, leaving his family behind, in order to try and earn enough money to have his family eventually come with him.Frankie's ambition is to eventually build a floating city. He learns some tricks of the trade working as a gardener for an architect and receives advice and guidance from Buckmister Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. Frankie finds that many are weary of a Japanese builder, so he changes his name to Frank Hanes, and begins his building empire.I didn't know what to expect after the first couple of chapters, which begin when Frankie is very young. As the novel progressed through Frankie's life, I found many similarities to Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, an ambitious architect who struggles to find acceptance, however it lacked the depth of Rand's masterpiece.Overall, while the book was still a good read, I found it to be lacking with many parts of Frankie's life glossed over and leaving questions for the readers. I received an ARC of this book for free through Goodreads First-Reads.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    This book struck me as somewhat strange during the first chapter or two, but then things were explained and I fell into a rhythm of reading it, having a tough time taking a break when I had other obligations to tend to. I loved that the story took place in parts of British Columbia that I am familiar with. It was difficult to read of the poverty, unfairness, and prejudice that took place during the 1940s in Canada. A very shameful time in Canada's history. Frankie, his brother and sisters were b This book struck me as somewhat strange during the first chapter or two, but then things were explained and I fell into a rhythm of reading it, having a tough time taking a break when I had other obligations to tend to. I loved that the story took place in parts of British Columbia that I am familiar with. It was difficult to read of the poverty, unfairness, and prejudice that took place during the 1940s in Canada. A very shameful time in Canada's history. Frankie, his brother and sisters were born in Canada, but his parents were from Japan. I was struck by the style of writing whereby it was somewhat vague in details; which matched the character of Frankie, who was very stoic, duty-bound, family oriented and a man of few words. Even though I wanted to learn more, the vagueness was understandable. Frankie's time in Toronto was so interesting, as I had no idea of any of the history mentioned in this part of the story. Very heartbreaking in parts and lots of historical information; even though I was left yearning for more. This is a story that I will not forget and I am grateful to Goodreads and the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, for providing me with this ARC.
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  • K.A. Wiggins
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed the historical detail in this; the Nisei experience on Canada's west coast is fascinating, and I've only read a few perspectives on it. Authentic-feeling story of a Canadian-born son of Japanese parents from the 1930s-1980s. Starts with childhood experiences living on a floating house on the BC coast and follows through the internment and mountain camps of WWII, setting out to Toronto in the postwar period to build a life, dreaming and working toward success, and dealing with the Really enjoyed the historical detail in this; the Nisei experience on Canada's west coast is fascinating, and I've only read a few perspectives on it. Authentic-feeling story of a Canadian-born son of Japanese parents from the 1930s-1980s. Starts with childhood experiences living on a floating house on the BC coast and follows through the internment and mountain camps of WWII, setting out to Toronto in the postwar period to build a life, dreaming and working toward success, and dealing with the fallout of letting ambition lead to selfishness. There's a strong fantastic/spiritual/magical realist element throughout, based on legends, dreams and altered perceptions. Very firmly in the literary fiction tradition, with some themes that don't entirely link up. I read a lot of genre fiction and YA, so I wasn't really up for the dark period in the last third, but I liked the earlier bits and the resolution. On the whole, less dark and depraved than a lot of adult literary fiction; it manages to convey a sense of hope, optimism and potential throughout. Very cool Canadian perspective, and it feels authentic enough that I was sad there aren't floating cities in Toronto's harbour yet.
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  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a Goodreads First-reads Giveaway. Thank you! I enjoyed this book, but it was strange...at first a story about the lives of Japanese Canadians during WWII and their forced internment, which was well-written and historically interesting. And readers are shown the racial discrimmination that existed toward Asians, particularly the Japanese, at that time. But the book gradually became a different book, once Frankie moved to Toronto, and magical realism and metaphysics took over. T I won this book in a Goodreads First-reads Giveaway. Thank you! I enjoyed this book, but it was strange...at first a story about the lives of Japanese Canadians during WWII and their forced internment, which was well-written and historically interesting. And readers are shown the racial discrimmination that existed toward Asians, particularly the Japanese, at that time. But the book gradually became a different book, once Frankie moved to Toronto, and magical realism and metaphysics took over. Then the characters and the storyline became very eccentric. I still enjoyed the book, but it felt a little like I'd slipped into an alternate dimension by the end of the book. So many oddball characters, so much tragedy, so many weird events and twists in the story. Entertaining, but what a strange journey this novel is!!
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  • Janice
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publishers for this ARC copy. I really enjoyed this book. I was interested to learn about the experience of Japanese Canadians during WW2. The author's style is engaging, providing big moments without being forceful. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the brief sections that went all metaphysical. I felt jarred by them and felt they were forced. However they did not affect my overall enjoyment of the story. If there was another book with Frankie and his family I would read it. I wo Thanks to the publishers for this ARC copy. I really enjoyed this book. I was interested to learn about the experience of Japanese Canadians during WW2. The author's style is engaging, providing big moments without being forceful. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the brief sections that went all metaphysical. I felt jarred by them and felt they were forced. However they did not affect my overall enjoyment of the story. If there was another book with Frankie and his family I would read it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a Canadian story that takes one from the BC coast to the shores of Lake Ontario.
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  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book, especially the way it has such a lovely magical (or you could call it spiritual) element to it. Lovely writing, that pulls you in. Plus, it's a topic I'm interested in - ever since reading "Obasan", I've been curious about the experience of Japanese Canadians during World War 2. As a Canadian myself, this is of special interest to me, and I've often felt that the topic hasn't been given the attention it merits, so it was good to see it addressed here. Well-written, engaging, a I loved this book, especially the way it has such a lovely magical (or you could call it spiritual) element to it. Lovely writing, that pulls you in. Plus, it's a topic I'm interested in - ever since reading "Obasan", I've been curious about the experience of Japanese Canadians during World War 2. As a Canadian myself, this is of special interest to me, and I've often felt that the topic hasn't been given the attention it merits, so it was good to see it addressed here. Well-written, engaging, and both the plot and character development are excellent.
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  • Tashfin Awal
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways and have chosen to give my honest opinion about it.This book definitely made me feel good, with a character I could look up to and respect and setting changes that were all too familiar and added to the feeling of relatability. The plot took enough turns at the beginning, however I feel like it kind of slowed down by the end. But still, the character development and sad historical relevance of the book makes this definitely an important r I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways and have chosen to give my honest opinion about it.This book definitely made me feel good, with a character I could look up to and respect and setting changes that were all too familiar and added to the feeling of relatability. The plot took enough turns at the beginning, however I feel like it kind of slowed down by the end. But still, the character development and sad historical relevance of the book makes this definitely an important read, and a satisfying one too!
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I did enjoy the beginning of the book, which gives a glimpse into the immigrant experience. If you are looking for a historical fiction novel, this is not the book for you. The time spent in the internment camp is less than twenty pages and the book spans decades with little detail. The book moves quickly from one setting to another and you don't become emotionally involved in the characters, or the setting.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    There’s a thread of a sort of magical realism wound through this tale of family, big dreams, and strange architecture. It makes for some lovely imagery. I rather enjoyed parts of this book, early on the building of a floating island flower garden was lovely, but I found much of the plot in the second half of the book difficult to follow. (I received a free ARC of this book through a giveaway on goodreads)
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Captivating story of Frankie from his early years in British Columbia with his Japanese parents to making his way across Canada to build a future for himself and fulfill his dreams and ambitions. I enjoyed the details of Frankie's early life, time in the Japanese internment camps and his witnessing of the growth of Toronto. The back cover describes it as a fairytale-like story and I felt this throughout the book.
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    What a lovely novel. Starting with the life of Frankie as a young boy, to his family's time in a Japanese prison camp, to overcoming their poverty. This is fiction, but not historical fiction. It does tie into a fictionalized Buckminster Fuller. (Any book that can bring alive geodesic domes is a hit for me!) Behind this backdrop are ideas which make a reader reflect: family, poverty, helping others, and, what ifs. I'm a fan of her previous books, but, I think this one is my favourite.
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  • Lorraine
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Goodreads and Kerri Sakamoto for an advance read copy of "Floating City". Great read. I would give this book a 4.5 if it was possible. I really loved it. Exceptional writing. I recommend this book for sure. If you think the story is based on fact then look it up and learn more. I learned a lot and enjoyed the writing and the story.
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  • Hope
    January 1, 1970
    3.5*I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.Floating City is a strange tale but I really enjoyed it.
  • Luella Lee
    January 1, 1970
    OK. I felt the story was quite slow and didn't think Frank's son and his physical problems were clear. I was very confused by his death.
  • Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    This engrossing novel captured the fervour of historical travesties of justice by illuminating the personal consequences suffered by these diverse individual characters in Canada!
  • Harold
    January 1, 1970
    A GoodReads GiveAwayLife is architecture?
  • Rouleauville
    January 1, 1970
    Through the mists of this book I could feel the influence of Mordecai Richler's 'The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz' and Ondaatje's 'In The Skin of the Lion'. Frankie's journey did speak to me at times, and it helps greatly to have a certain knowledge of Toronto's architectural history & geographic layout. The plot grabbed me at times and I sped through Frankie's travails. Other passages & character interactions left me cold and less interested and I wasn't entirely sure of the underlyi Through the mists of this book I could feel the influence of Mordecai Richler's 'The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz' and Ondaatje's 'In The Skin of the Lion'. Frankie's journey did speak to me at times, and it helps greatly to have a certain knowledge of Toronto's architectural history & geographic layout. The plot grabbed me at times and I sped through Frankie's travails. Other passages & character interactions left me cold and less interested and I wasn't entirely sure of the underlying themes the author may have been trying to communicate.I received my copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Rating 3.5 that I've rounded up as the book is one that I'll keep and may re-read in the future to further explore.
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