Connect Magazine Japan #80 March 2019

Page 24

Angela Hinck (Fukui Prefecture)

An Interview With Author Rodney Gottula Ever since I first saw the initial Kickstarter for the children’s book Double! Not Half., I was intrigued by the concept. It explores the Japanese loanword hafu — a term used to describe those who are of mixed Japanese heritage, born of one Japanese parent and one non-Japanese parent. Hafu is one of those loan words that has taken on an entirely new facet of meaning since entering the Japanese lexicon. To some, it has a straightforward definition. To others, there’s nothing simple


about the word hafu and the complicated space it inhabits in Japan’s largely homogenous social structure.

book has no lack of heart, and its message is clear: to be “half” is not to be “less.” It’s a matter of addition, not subtraction.

That might seem like a lot to tackle in a picture book geared toward a young audience, but author Rodney Gottula— a former JET Program participant, current educator, and father of two children who share both American and Japanese heritage— handles the topic with sensitivity and care in his self-published work. The

Gottula was kind enough to do an interview with CONNECT exploring his time in Japan, the challenges of self-publishing, the central message of his book, and some of the personal experiences that inspired him to write Double! Not Half.