The result is a lyrical testimony of small family farming, an endangered way of life in an America sometimes in conflict with the business of farming. The narrative is also a personal meditation on how our society values food, family traditions, and community. A third-generation farmer and Japanese American living in eastern San Joaquin Valley, Masumoto grows peaches and grapes and raises two children with his wife, Marcy. His peaches are a part of his family history, but the vagaries of fruit markets and the impersonal hand of nature make for an uncertain future.
"My peaches are part of a tradition on our farm, they hold meaning for my family," he writes. "But the pressures for progress challenge that meaning. My peaches are like the traditions of the homeland- you don't simply leave them behind, you carry them with you like historical baggage."
Masumoto is also the author of Silent Strength (1984), Home Bound (1989), and Country Voices: The Oral History of a Japanese American Family Farm Community (1987), as well as several newspaper and magazine articles. He received the James Clavell Japanese American National Literacy Award in 1986 and Epitaph for a Peach won the 1995 Julia Child Cookbook Award in the Literary Food Writing category, despite the fact that the book contains no recipes. Mas Masumoto is also a farm activist and member of the California Council for the Humanities.
Please join the Athenaeum and Mas Masumoto for a reflective evening on culture and values, including a reading from Epitaph for a Peach.