Hawaiʻi: A Novel
Softcover, 568 pp.
A nine-term U.S. senator and political patriarch is dead, leaving modern-day Hawaii at a crossroads: crumbling public education at all levels, a crystal meth epidemic, Native Hawaiians getting shipped to Arizona prisons, and class divisions so deep that even State Senator Russell Lee has to scramble to avoid eviction from his family’s dream home.
When an illegal gambling debt puts him even deeper in the hole, Russell’s only way out is to go all in, joining forces with an up-and-coming developer, a linked-up underworld kingpin, and a Chinese casino magnate. Their goal? To sway an electorate easily distracted by a local media obsession with weather reports and Hawaii football into rolling the dice on the most unlikely legislative ambition in the state’s history.
Russ lays it all on the line – his house, his family, his career, his principles – in a battle that pits him against the next-in-line “anointed” Democratic party favorite, an environmental movement hardened by years of anti-development crusades, and the long-lost righteous Hawaiian blood-brother he must convince to join him in the name of helping his people.
From the summit of Mauna Kea to the crowded shores of Waikiki, from the State Capitol to the seedy backstreets of Honolulu, from a ten-thousand dollar breast enhancement to a young mother’s fading jailhouse tattoo, Mark Panek leaves out nothing in this scathing portrait of 21st-century paradise.