Snow Falling On Cedars
by David Guterson

"Haunting.... A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper."--Los Angeles Times

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  • About the Book

    Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
    Winner of the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award

    San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense-- one that leaves us shaken and changed.

    About the Author

    After moving to Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, Guterson taught English at the local high school and began writing journalism for Sports Illustrated and Harper's magazine, where he is now a contributing editor. His books include a collection of short stories, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, and Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award.

    About the Film

    Fog as thick and palpable as cotton hangs suspended over San Piedro Island. On the bay, a flickering lantern signals distress from a crippled fishing boat, while elsewhere a freighter lurches blindly through the chalky mist. By morning, sea and sky are clear, but the tranquil village of fisherman and berry farmers will forever be changed. For one man has lost his life, and another -a childhood friend- has been charged with taking it. An investigation is launched. The trial begins.

    A reporter covering the trial, Ishmael Chambers, sits in the courtroom, carefully observing the person with whom he shared the rapturous secrets of childhood, the only woman he has ever loved. Hatsue, the defendant's wife. Their tortured relationship will have an unexpected bearing on the trial of Kazuo Miyamoto, which serves to frame Snow Falling On Cedars.

    Universal Pictures presents a Harry J. Ufland/Ron Bass Production, a Kennedy/Marshall Production of Snow Falling On Cedars, an elegiac, multi-layered exploration of memory, love and reconciliation. Set in 1950 on an island in the Pacific Northwest, the film is Australian director Scott Hicks' follow-up to the much-acclaimed Shine, a 1997 Academy Award nominee in seven categories, including Best Film and Best Director. The film is produced by Harry J. Ufland (One True Thing), Ron Bass (My Best Friend's Wedding) and Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), and adapted from David Guterson's acclaimed best-selling novel by Ron Bass and Scott Hicks.

    The acting ensemble in Snow Falling on Cedars is headed by Ethan Hawke (Great Expectations) and Youki Kudoh (Picture Bride) as the lovers, with Rick Yune making his motion picture debut as the fisherman on trial for his life. Max von Sydow (Pelle The Conqueror), James Cromwell (Babe), James Rebhorn (Up Close & Personal) and Richard Jenkins (The Impostors) play men whose legal acumen can't quite cut to the heart of this particular matter. Sam Shepard (Crimes of the Heart), in the cameo role of a crusading newspaperman, embodies the best intentions of the Anglo community, but it's not enough to stanch the tragedy.

    Rounding out the production is an award-winning cadre of talent, including: Academy Award winner Robert Richardson as director of photography (JFK); Oscar¨ nominee Jeannine Oppewall, production designer (L.A. Confidential); Hank Corwin, editor (The Horse Whisperer); Grammy winner James Newton Howard (My Best Friend's Wedding); and Renee Erlich Kalfus, costume designer (Dead Man Walking).



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    Photos Copyright © 1999, Universal Studios