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Home Community Calendar Poetry / Literature SAYONARA COWBOY – A Memoir


May 18 2024


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm




DVAA is proud to host the New York Book Launch for Sayonara Cowboy—A Memoir, the debut work of Japanese-American author William Yukikazu Fellenberg. This poignant memoir delves into the intersection of cultures, family, and self-discovery.

Fellenberg will read a selection of passages from his memoir and be in conversation with DVAA’s Director, Ariel Shanberg. A Q&A with the audience will also take place.

Bill Fellenberg, known for his previous contributions to literary magazines such as Clementine Unbound, The Orchards Poetry Journal, and The Narrowsburg Literary Gazette, brings forth a lifetime of experiences in his first full-length publication. From his humble beginnings as a teenage reporter for his hometown weekly, to his distinguished career in university advancement and advocacy for refugees and immigrants, Fellenberg’s journey has been one of diverse paths and rich encounters.

“At its heart, Sayonara Cowboy is a coming-of-age story,” says Fellenberg. “It navigates the turbulent waters of racism, familial complexities, and the search for identity in the aftermath of World War II.”

The memoir follows the author, born to an American G.I. and a Yokohama shopgirl, as he grapples with the legacy of war and the challenges of being caught between two worlds. In Japan, he’s scorned as an ainoko, a mongrel boy. When he arrives in America and begins kindergarten, he’s shunned by his classmates.

He soon faces other personal crises. When he’s eight, his mother abandons him, returning to Japan. Meanwhile, his wayward father thrusts him into the care of his paternal grandparents. The boy embarks on a quest for selfhood amid the clash of cultures and the failures of his parents.

It’s a rare formula for humor, but in situations born of cultural misunderstandings and his own rueful behavior, the boy and the emerging young man overcome stumbles ranging from the embarrassing to the hilarious. Ultimately, he finds his equilibrium as a writer, a lover, and an adult. Written with lyrical skill and wit, Sayonara Cowboy is an enjoyable lesson for us all on how to forgive.

“I began writing this book when I retired,” Fellenberg shares. “It was a decade-long journey of rewriting and revising, driven by a desire to capture my experiences and the universal themes of love, loss, and resilience.” Sayonara Cowboy promises to resonate not only with those who came of age in mid-twentieth century America but also with readers interested in the immigrant experience and the timeless quest for connection. Fellenberg’s prose invites readers into a world where the wars we face—both external and internal—are met with the enduring power of love and the pursuit of happiness.


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