Mysterious Dreams of the Dead

By (author): Terry Watada

At the heart of Mysterious Dreams of the Dead is the spiritual search for a father who died in a plane crash north of Lake Superior when his son was fifteen. Mike Shintani decides in his early thirties to address the curious circumstances surrounding his father’s death; the senior Shintani’s body was never found, and wolves circled the crash site as if guarding the area.

The impetus for Mike’s search for truth is a diary he found in the basement of his home. It was obviously his father’s, but it was written in Japanese. Mike never knew his father could write Japanese. He himself could neither read nor write the language. He was fortunate enough to enlist the help of Naoko Ito, a Japanese grad student at the University of Toronto. It turned out, the book was a dream diary, filled with poetry, descriptions of the surreal, and the story of a love affair with a woman named Chiemi. Chiemi is at the centre of the elder Shintani’s dreams, and Naoko, after some time, seemingly disappears into thin air. Both appear as ghosts in dreams.

Another great mystery of Mike’s life is the behaviour of one of his best friends, Boku Sugiura, who decides one day to rob a bank, in the name of his grandfather and redress for Japanese Canadians.

The two strains of the novel come together in Moose Jaw. Mike discovers the truth about his father’s life and Boku’s uncle (Daniel Sugiura from the Three Pleasures), a protestor in the Moose Jaw stand-off.

Through elements of the Japanese ghost story (kwaidan), magic realism, and Buddhist myth, secrets are revealed and explored. The Mysterious Dreams of the Dead is an imaginative examination of the effect of the exile, internment, and dispersal on the third-generation of Japanese Canadians (the Sansei).


Terry Watada

Terry Watada is a well-published writer living in Toronto. He has three novels, five poetry books (two with Mawenzi House), and a short story collection in print. His fourth novel, Hiroshima Bomb Money (NeWest Press) is set for release in 2024. His new play, Sakura: the Last Cherry Blossom Festival, will premiere in the summer of 2024 during the Lighthouse Summer Theatre Festival, Port Dover, Ontario. Above all else, he considers himself a poet.


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256 Pages
9.01in * 7.75in * .63in


December 10, 2020



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FICTION / Literary

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