Naomi Hirahara
Naomi Hirahara

Chaucer’s Books will host Edgar Award-winning author Naomi Hirahara for a book talk and signing of her novel “Evergreen,” 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 3321 State St., Santa Barbara.

“Evergreen” is the story of a Japanese American nurse’s aide who navigates the dangers of post-World War II and post-Manzanar life as she attempts to find justice for a broken family. The book is a follow-up to Hirahara’s “Clark and Division” that won a Mary Higgins Clark Award.

When the book opens, it’s been two years since Aki Ito and her family were released from Manzanar detention center and resettled in Chicago with other Japanese Americans.

The Itos have finally been allowed to return home to California, but nothing is as they left it. The entire Japanese American community is starting from scratch, with thousands of people living in dismal refugee camps while they struggle to find new houses and jobs in overcrowded Los Angeles.

Aki is working as a nurse’s aide at the Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights when an elderly Issei man is admitted with suspicious injuries. When she seeks out his son, she is shocked to recognize her husband’s best friend Babe Watanabe. Could Babe be guilty of elder abuse?

Only a few days later, Little Tokyo is rocked by a murder at the low-income hotel where the Watanabes have been staying. When the cops start sniffing around Aki’s home, she begins to worry that the violence tearing through her community might threaten her family.

In addition to receiving a Mary Higgins Clark Award, Hirahara is the Edgar Award–winning author of the “Mas Arai” mystery series, including “Summer of the Big Bachi,” which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and one of the Chicago Tribune’s Ten Best Mysteries and Thrillers; “Gasa Gasa Girl;” “Snakeskin Shamisen;” and “Hiroshima Boy.”

She also wrote the L.A.-based “Ellie Rush” mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, Hirahara has co-written nonfiction books such as “Life after Manzanar” and “Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor.”

A Stanford University alumna, Hirahara lives in Pasadena, California.