Floating City

Kerri Sakamoto's novel tells of the journey from rural British Columbia to Toronto, echoing the importance of knowing our past along the way.

Kerri Sakamoto

Citizen Kane re-imagined, 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, B.C. 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 fairy tale-like story about family, ambition and the costs of turning our backs on history and home. (From Knopf Canada)

From the book

He drowsed until afternoon, when he woke to find his mother settled in beside him, ready to tell another story. The one about the rich widow and her son and daughter. The widow had heard of the Priest and the miracles he'd performed, of walking on fire, purging dark spirits, bringing a dead man back to life. She wanted a miracle of her own.

The widow wanted her son brought back — not to life because he wasn't dead — but home to Japan from the New World where he'd ventured.

Take my daughter to the New World and find my son, the widow told the Priest. When they all three returned, she would build a shrine where followers could flock to see the Priest perform his miracles. The daughter, who was only a girl, begged her mother not to make her marry the aged and gnarled man.

Momoye held up the bottle with its swill of white cloud, sea green and sky blue inside.

"They never found the son?" Frankie drawled, though he knew. He was weak with fever again.

His mother leaned in to pat his forehead with a cool cloth, then disappeared.

From Floating City by Kerri Sakamoto ©2018. Published by Knopf Canada.


Kerri Sakamoto on her novel "Floating City," about an ambitious young boy's rise from poverty to property developer.