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House of Many Gods: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Kiana Davenport
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From Kiana Davenport, the bestselling author of Song of the Exile and Shark Dialogues, comes another mesmerizing novel about her people and her islands. Told in spellbinding and mythic prose, House of Many Gods is a deeply complex and provocative love story set against the background of Hawaii and Russia. Interwoven throughout with the indelible portrait of a native Hawaiian family struggling against poverty, drug wars, and the increasing military occupation of their sacred lands.

Progressing from the 1960s to the turbulent present, the novel begins on the island of O’ahu and centers on Ana, abandoned by her mother as a child. Raised by her extended family on the “lawless” Wai’anae coast, west of Honolulu, Ana, against all odds, becomes a physician. While tending victims of Hurricane ‘Iniki on the neighboring island of Kaua’i, she meets Nikolai, a Russian filmmaker with a violent and tragic past, who can confront reality only through his unique prism of lies. Yet he is dedicated to recording the ecological horrors in his motherland and across the Pacific.

As their lives slowly and inextricably intertwine, Ana and Nikolai’s story becomes an odyssey that spans decades and sweeps the reader from rural Hawaii to the forbidding Arctic wastes of Russia; from the poverty-stricken Wai’anae coast to the glittering harshness of “new Moscow” and the haunting, faded beauty of St. Petersburg. With stunning narrative inventiveness, Davenport has created a timeless epic of loss and remembrance, of the search for family and identity, and, ultimately, of the redemptive power of love.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A family battles poverty, government indifference and each other in Davenport's rich third novel (Song of Exile). Ana's mother, the beautiful Anahola, fled the Hawaiian coastal town of Nanakuli, on Oahu, when Ana was still small for a new life on her own in San Francisco, leaving Ana to bring herself up in a house filled with wounded veteran uncles in an impoverished town riddled by drugs and teenage thugs. Determined not to become like her beloved but abused cousin, pregnant at 15 and stuck, Ana fights her way through college and medical school. Furious at her estranged mother, she nonetheless yearns for her, calling her California home just to hear her breathe. Leery of love and of the damaged men who populate her world, she finally opens her heart to Nikolai Volenko, a Russian filmmaker with a dangerous past, who's come to the Waianae coast to document the threat of a nearby weapons factory. When Niki is forced to return to Russia, Ana has to decide whether to accept her mother's help in finding the man she loves or retreat to the safety of the island she has never left. This is a lush, ambitious novel that delves deeply into familial conflict and forgiveness and offers a fascinating glimpse into the beauty and contradictions of native Hawaiian culture.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Written as two stories that come together in a beautiful love story, this novel will appeal to teens on many levels. It follows the life of Ana, raised in Hawaii by a family that includes uncles demoralized by the Vietnam War and addicted to drugs and despair, and women burdened by poverty and child rearing. Determined to break the cycle, Ana manages college and medical school with a ferocity fueled by anger at the mother who left her and by the loving support of her extended family. Nikolai was orphaned as a small child and left to roam the streets of St. Petersburg when his mother died while camping out near the jail where her husband was held as a political prisoner. The young people meet dramatically during a hurricane in Hawaii, and Ana becomes impressed by Nikolai's work as a documentary filmmaker passionately dedicated to exposing the manmade ecological havoc in Russia and in Hawaii. Well-drawn characterizations of the two principals as well as Ana's colorful relatives will capture readers, as will the vivid descriptions of the stark, frozen Russian countryside, its once majestic cities, and the contrasting lush islands of Hawaii.-Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1474 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B002W9JZ30
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001TSZ5PC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,514 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Silence is how we preserve that which is most sacred." January 27, 2006
With her lush descriptions of the topography and the almost operatic rhythm of her language, Kiana Davenport establishes the setting of her newest novel--a "wild place, the untutored place, where the Grand Tutu of the coast, the rugged Wai'anae Mountains, watched over the generations," the last holdout of pure-blood Hawaiians on Oahu. Opening in 1964, the novel focuses on Ana Kapakahi, a young girl from the poor coastal village Nanakuli, who is being raised by her extended family, her mother having departed for the mainland and a better life. Many of the elders in her family and neighborhood adhere to the old spiritual and cultural traditions, and they resent the fact that much of the land in these mountains has been seized by the US military, ending the Hawaiians' traditional use of the land and despoiling their sacred burial places and shrines.

Davenport traces the life of the resilient Ana, from 1964 to the present, as she progresses through school, college, and medical school, a journey of immense hardship and stress, contrasting Ana's life with that of her mother, Anahola (also called Ana), who is living comfortably on the mainland. She also introduces a surprising new plot element by comparing and contrasting Ana's life with that of Nikolai Volenko, a young Russian in Moscow. The two come together as adults when Hurricane Iniki destroys the Hawaiian island of Kauai and Ana, as a physician, offers medical aid. Niki, a videographer on a one-year fellowship to the US, arrives to record the events for a documentary.

Though the author might have used her plot to set up simple love stories in which the cultural differences among various lovers complicate their lives, Davenport goes much further than this, thematically, providing several points of focus.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I've becoming quite a fan of Kiana Davenport. Her themes are always about her native Hawaii. Her characters are symbolic as well as real. And her stories never fail to keep me up well past my bedtime. I read her latest book in a couple of days and just couldn't put it down. This was in spite of the fact that I generally knew what was coming. In fact, I welcomed it. Because, in the end, I knew there would be a happy resolution. And there was.

This is the story of a Ana, young native Hawaiian girl born in the 1960s. She's being raised by her extended family because her mother has deserted her. It's a house full of aunties and uncles and cousins who eke out a sparse living in rural Oahu, about a two-hour bus ride from the busy and bustling Honolulu. This is Ana's story, but it is also the story an unpleasant chapter in Hawaii's history, that of nuclear testing on its beaches, with the resultant illnesses of the people and devastation of the environment.

Against all odds, Ana grows up to be a doctor. She is not a happy person though. She has been shaped by the loss of her mother and is always angry. Even when she becomes ill, and her mother returns, she continues living behind emotional defenses.

But there is another character in this story. And, unlike Ms. Davenport's previous books, this character is not a native Hawaiian. He comes from far-away Russia and has experienced anguishes that make Ana's story pale by comparison. When Stalin came to power, this man's father was sent to a labor camp in the frozen north. His mother followed him, living in a house of ice with other women whose husbands were in the camp. During a secret visit to his father, Nicolai was conceived and the hardships he endured as a baby made me wince in horror.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lush is the word April 19, 2006
If a book can be described in a single word, lush would be the one for Davenport's novel, House of Many Gods. Her stunning gift for description of place is evident not only in the passion she infuses into writing about her green Hawaii, where the part-Hawaiian author lives, but also to the passages putting us into the faded glory of St. Petersburg and the madness of modern Moscow. She takes us from "ancient serrated valleys, green velvet cliffs, then, tiny hidden beaches like opals" to "a room that could be crossed in eleven steps, life lived on an intimate scale" while outside are "the spires of St. Basil's cathedral, like giant swirling Dairy Queens." With Davenport, you are there.

For those not familiar with Hawaiian history, Davenport weaves in just enough background without slowing down the complex plot-and it is a big one, spanning generations, military presence, and several love stories in language that reaches poetry at times.

Although there are several stories interwoven here, the complicated relationship between Ana, the main character, and her mother, Anahola, a single mother who left her child by choice with family and moved to San Francisco, is particularly compelling-and authentic. Davenport is a marvelous storyteller. --Lorraine Dusky
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noke, Kiana, Noke! April 8, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read both of Kiana Davenport's other books, I eagerly awaited the release of this book and immediately pre-ordered it when the option was available.

When the book came, I looked at the cover and then at the premise of the story. I knew that this one was going to strike home a little bit more than the others (being set on the Wai'anae Coast...just down the hill and down the freeway in my childhood memories), so I let it sit on my shelf for a month before I read it.

What do I love about this book? Like the others, it brings to my rememberance the awesome history that all Hawaiian people share. Kiana is brilliant at weaving her fictional characters within the context of Hawai'i's history and always with an unflinching view toward the rape and damage that our people and our islands have experienced from the beginning. Most importantly, it brings it to the attention of people who only see a vacationing spot in June with smiling hula girls and help staff, mahalini (newcomers) who set up residence on the island for some years and believe that this gives them the right to be called kama'aina (technically Native Hawaiian, though some will say this may also mean "long-time resident"), and those who are just plain curious about these islands whose existance holds its people captive our whole lifelong - even when we move far away to escape its hold on us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Kiana's writing I have read all of her work
I love Kiana's writing I have read all of her work...I have gifted her books I hope she will continue to write about Hawaii...
Published 6 days ago by Cynthia Faye Behrens
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 in a series. If you haven't read Kiana ...
3 in a series. If you haven't read Kiana, get to it. Start with "Shark Tales", the first in the series.
Published 3 months ago by M. V. Potts
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for: anyone interested in long wonderful novels
Kiana Davenport's book House of Many Gods is a wonderful generational novel, beginning in the mid-Sixties and running to present day, along the Wai'anae coast of Oahu, a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Larry Dunlap
5.0 out of 5 stars A favorite author.
One of the best beautiful stories ever
Published 7 months ago by Linda C. Hanley
4.0 out of 5 stars Very moving....highly recommended
Very moving. It took me a while to get into this book, but by halfway through I was totally hooked. Kiana Davenport is an excellent writer and the research that must have gone into... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lily
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very happy
Published 10 months ago by m.h.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading
Others have gone into far more detail so let me just add this: not only is it a good story in the way all of Kiana Davenport's works are but also the parts about birth practices... Read more
Published 12 months ago by SamKD
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes history of Islands so interesting.
I could not put this book down until I had finished it. I love reading about the history of the Islands of Hawaii.
Published 17 months ago by Barb Franks
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Very good book and it arrived in perfect condition. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about old Hawaii.
Published 18 months ago by Shooey Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and poignant.
I love a novel with historical background. It kept me turning pages until I was finished; and then I wanted more.
Published 18 months ago by Barbara Franks
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More About the Author

KIANA DAVENPORT is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother, Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing. On her mother's side, Kiana traces her ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Islands who arrived almost two thousand years ago from Tahiti and the Tuamotu's. On her father's side, she traces her ancestry to John Davenport, the puritan clergyman who co-founded the American colony of New Haven, Connecticut in 1638.

Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, SHARK DIALOGUES, SONG OF THE EXILE, HOUSE OF MANY GODS, THE SPY LOVER, and most recently, THE SOUL AJAR, now available in paperback and on Kindle. She is also the author of the collections, HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES, CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES Volume II, and OPIUM DREAMS, PACIFIC STORIES, VOLUME III. All three collections have been Kindle bestsellers. She has also been a guest blogger on Huffington Post.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii, Kiana has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her short stories have won numerous O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and the Best American Short Story Award, 2000. Her novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in Hawaii and New York City.

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