After his discharge in 1946, Okada completed two Bachelor’s Degrees from the University of Washington and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University. In 1957, he published his one and only completed novel, No-No Boy, a fictional account of Ichiro, a Seattle-born Japanese American, who returns to Seattle from prison after answering in the negative to Questions 27 and 28 of the loyalty questionnaire. His novel, the first ever published by a U.S.-born Japanese American, received little attention and was even rejected by the Japanese American community, which probably wasn’t ready to be reminded of the demeaning treatment which had been received at the hands of the U.S. government.
Okada, discouraged and unknown, had almost completed his second novel when he died of a heart attack in 1971 at the age of 47. When his widow, Dorothy, tried to contact publishers about her late husband’s unfinished novel, her calls went unreturned. Out of despair, she burned the works when she moved. It wasn’t until later in the 70’s that No-No Boy was rediscovered as a seminal work in Asian American fiction. No-No Boy has presently been adapted as a play and continues to sell out shows in theatres in California.