- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Hogarth (July 9, 2013)
A visceral, poignant, and elegantly gritty work of debut fiction set in Hawaii, in the vein of Junot Diaz’s Drown and Danielle Evans’s Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
This is the real Hawai`i: life is not the paradisical adventure that honeymooners or movie-goers see. Danger lurks on beautiful beaches, violence bubbles under the smooth surf, and characters come face-to-face with the inevitability of change and the need to define who they are against the forces of tradition and expectation. In these stories, a young woman decides to take revenge on the man who had her father murdered–only to find that her father wasn’t who she thought he was. Three different groups of Hawaiian women observe and comment on the progress of an American tourist through one day and one night in Honolulu. And a young couple have an encounter with a stray dog that shakes their relationship to the core.
Intimately tied to the Hawaiian Islands, This Is Paradise explores the relationships among native Hawaiians, local citizens, and emigrants from (and to) the contiguous forty-eight states. There is tension between locals and tourists, between locals and the military men that populate their communities, between local Hawaiian girls who never leave and those who do for higher education and then return. Kahakauwila is a careful observer of her protagonists’ actions–and, sometimes, their inaction. Her portrayal of people whose lives have lost their center of gravity is acute, often heartbreaking, and suffused with a deeply felt empathy.
With a contemporary edginess, a mature style, and a sense of history reverberating into the present, This Is Paradise is an incredible debut.
“Vividly imagined, beautifully written, at times almost unbearably suspenseful–the stories in Kristiana Kahakauwila’s debut collection This is Paradise are boldly inventive in their exploration of the tenuous nature of human relations. These are poignant stories of ‘paradise’–Hawai’i–with all that ‘paradise’ entails of the transience of sensuous beauty.”–Joyce Carol Oates
“Tourists don’t see the Hawaii unsparingly yet lyrically depicted in Kahakauwila’s debut collection… The author’s assured use of both pidgin and standard English mirrors her characters’ uneasy feeling of straddling two worlds: a timeless one in harmony with nature and a commercial, modern one that is both invasive and enticing. Finely wrought work from an impressive new talent.” –Kirkus
“In these lively, accomplished stories, Kristiana Kahakauwila paints a vivid portrait of modern Hawai’i—not the gauzy ideal of tourist vacations, but the messy, fascinating reality of its inhabitants. This is an impressive debut by a writer to watch.” –Alix Ohlin, author of Inside
“The immersive stories of This Is Paradise are a lithe blend of formal invention and traditional narrative pleasures. As such they reflect Kristiana Kahakauwila’s intimate but expansive vision of a Hawai’i forged from the collisions of past and present, here and there. Her protagonists are as richly distinctive as the pidgin they speak, and yet each struggles profoundly with identity—that negotiation between ourselves and the world, which is at once Hawaiian, American, universally and compellingly human.” –Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
“These six masterful stories move so fluently through their grand old materials—sex, longing, love, loneliness—that it’s easy to overlook how fierce they are, and how surprising. Again and again, Kristiana Kahakauwila renders the complex beauties of her native Hawai’i in a vivid, burning, and altogether original light. Glowing with life, peril, and beautifully scaled human drama, This Is Paradise is full of people you’ll never forget, and will never want to.” –Michael Byers, author of Percival’s Planet
KRISTIANA KAHAKAUWILA, a native Hawaiian, was raised in Southern California. She earned a master’s in fine arts from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Princeton University. She has worked as a writer and editor for Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, and Highlights for Children magazines and taught English at Chaminade University in Honolulu. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Western Washington University.
Kristiana Kahakauwila’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Wednesday, July 10th- What She Read
Thursday, July 11th- Guiltless Reader
Friday, July 12th: Booklover Book Reviews
Monday, July 15th- Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, July 16th- Book Dilettante
Tuesday, July 16th- Book Club Classics
Wednesday, July 17th- Books Speak Volumes
Thursday, July 18th- No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, July 22nd- Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, July 23rd- Caribousmom
Wednesday, July 24th- BookNAround
Thursday, July 25th: Kahakai Kitchen
Friday, July 26th: Too Fond