Nonfiction | September 23, 2014

It’s Christmas Eve, two days after my husband and I have arrived in England to visit my family, when my mother, Hiroko Inoue Sherwin, comes down to the kitchen to tell me she’s just finished the first chapter of her latest book-in-progress. I want to embrace her but my husband is laid out with the flu and Hiroko, in her mid-seventies, is frail; even though I have no symptoms, I can’t take the risk. So instead I beam and wave my cereal spoon at her and ask, gesturing at the sheaf of papers she’s holding, if that’s it and is she ready for me to read it?

She nods. Then she says she’s hoping that I—“my daughter, the professor” is the phrase she uses—will not only read it but edit it, too.

I hesitate for barely an instant before saying I’d love to.

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