Dear literature-loving friends,

Yuba Lit is back in a big way. I hope you can join the Yuba Lit community on Thursday, September 12th for an eye-opening reading and discussion with acclaimed Auburn novelist Christian Kiefer. The conversation is sure to be locally relevant and timely, bringing lost history to light. Near the end of World War II, hundreds of Japanese Americans were sent from the Placer County towns of Penryn, Loomis, and Newcastle to desolate internment camps at Tule Lake and beyond. Most of these Americans never returned to the homes from which they were torn.


Kiefer’s novel Phantoms is dedicated to these families: The Asazawas, the Nakashimas, the Yoshidas, and many more. And it imagines the experience of a fictional family, the Takahashis, whose son Ray fought in World War II while his parents and siblings were sent to the camps. Decades later, a Vietnam veteran, John Wilson, returns to the Placer County land he and Ray both knew as home, and begins to piece together the entwined history of their families: The Wilsons who rented their property to the skilled Japanese-American farmers, and the Takahashis, who were sent away on buses, their lives forever changed.

The critical reception for Phantoms has been rapturous. A starred Kirkus review raves: “It’s a complex narrative structure, but this allows Kiefer to constantly overlay past and present and to recognize, through John [Wilson], the cycles in which his character, and in fact the country, remains trapped—cycles of racism, cycles of war, and cycles of young men who return home guilty of crimes, the full ramifications of which they couldn’t possibly understand . . . It will break your heart, and in the breaking, fill you with bittersweet but luminous joy.”


This novel is so beautifully written, and the historical context around it so profound, that I wanted Christian Kiefer to be the sole featured writer for this return of Yuba Lit. At the same time, we are eager for the return of the Yuba Lit community and its talents! So, this Yuba Lit will start with our ever-popular opening audience flash readings: Bring a poem or a page of your own and draw a raffle ticket to read in Yuba Lit’s famous opening audience flash round! Five audience members will be chosen. 

This Yuba Lit will be held at The Wild Eye Pub, 535 Mill St., Grass Valley. A no-host bar and dinner will be available, with cabaret-style seating; we encourage Yuba Lit patrons to support the pub with your purchase of food and drink. Tickets are $10 at the door, $8 in advance, with online tickets available soon at

You can also RSVP on Facebook here: RSVPs help us greatly with planning.

Please, bring your questions for Christian Kiefer about his luminous and revelatory book. He is deeply researched on the history of Japanese-American experience in Placer County. This will be a fascinating reading and an illuminating conversation. I so hope to reconnect with you on September 12th.

Yours in the love of literature,

Rachel Howard

Yuba Lit founder


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