This Is Paradise: Stories
This is the real Hawai'i: life is not the paradisical adventure that honeymooners or moviegoers 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.
Softcover, 240 pp.