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Retired Asian Studies professor Allen Wittenborn publishes second novel

Through his fascination with Asian cultures, the author writes a book about a Japanese woman faced with life-or-death decisions in post-WWII Japan.

San Diego, CA, USA – WEBWIRE

A Japanese widow navigates her way through a patriarchal society and a criminal underground.

Dr. Allen Wittenborn, a retired professor at Center for Asian & Pacific Studies of San Diego State University, published his second novel “The Defiance of Reiko Murata” (PublishNation, 2018). The book will soon be displayed in the upcoming 2018 Frankfurt International Book Fair on Oct. 10 to 14, 2018 at Frankfurt, Germany.
The historical fiction novel, which takes place in post-World War II, was inspired by the author’s fascination for Asian cultures, most especially Japanese culture. “My story deals a lot with my learning about Japan and its culture for nearly 40 years of research and teaching,” said the author about “The Defiance of Reiko Murata.”
The book is also partly inspired by the movie the author had seen years ago when he was a college student. Similar to the movie’s premise, the novel deals with a Japanese woman who is left widowed by the war and struggles to work her way through the male-dominant culture of Japan.
“The Defiance of Reiko Murata” could not have come at a better time, especially in the age of the #MeToo movement. The novel tackles women’s rights and their place in society. Said the author, “One aspect of not only Japan but of most Asian cultures, is the role of women. Especially, strong and/or influential women.
“In general, and on the surface, women are pretty much second-class, then and now. Nevertheless, they have and still do play significant roles in a kind of behind-the-scenes aspect. But I think there is a difference between strong women in Asia and their Western, in particular, their American counterparts. I’m probably going out on a limb here, but I see American women battling their male counterparts on the man’s playing field. The glass ceiling and all that. In Asia, the women are much better at creating their own grounds and so deal with their status in a different way.”
“The Defiance of Reiko Murata” is about Reiko Murata who lost her family to the war. Her husband, an admiral in the Japanese Imperial Navy, committed seppuku (a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment), sent her a letter with a poem, in which he suggests she follow his example. An internal struggle ensues.
In the midst of her internal struggle, Reiko meets a younger man, Akira Kusano. They begin an affair, but Reiko is wary about Akira’s ties with the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. She is soon drawn into the yakuza underworld, where she finds herself at a center of a mystery – and a situation where there is no escape.
What does the yakuza want with Reiko? How will she handle the situation she is in? Readers will know when they read Allen Wittenborn’s “The Defiance of Reiko Murata.”
Copies are available at Amazon ( and Barnes & Noble (
The Defiance of Reiko Murata
Written by Allen Wittenborn
Published by (paperback)
Published date: February 2, 2018
Paperback price: $13.99
About the Author

Allen Wittenborn is a retired professor who taught history and Asian Studies at San Diego State University for 25 years. He has been traveling to Asia ever since he jumped aboard a tramp steamer in 1964. He is the author of “Kokang: A Novel of Southeast Asia,” co-author of “Further Reflection on Things at Hand” (nonfiction), and editor of “Dragon in Ambush: The Art of War in the Poetry of Mao Zedong.”

Dr. Wittenborn divides his time between San Diego and points west.

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 Allen Wittenborn
 The Defiance of
 Reiko Murata
 Asian culture

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