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This Is Paradise: Stories Paperback – Deckle Edge, July 9, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0770436250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770436254
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

For visitors from Oklahoma to Okinawa, the Hawaiian Islands are paradise, even if only for a little while. But for natives and locals, surrounded by tourists, tormented by a heritage they can no longer maintain, life on these lava rocks is anything but perfect. Maui’s up-country is home to a family of cock fighters whose legacy is left in the hands of a young woman with a devious plot to avenge her father’s murder, one that will compromise her very identity. Honolulu’s luxury hotels lure a young mainland woman whose innocent acceptance of vacation-brochure hype leads directly to her death. And on the Big Island, a gay man sits by his father’s deathbed, tortured by his desire to reveal his sexual identity before his parent dies. Cogent explorations of regret, remorse, ambition, and ambivalence can take place anywhere on earth, but in a land known for its beguiling enchantment, such fatalism takes on a forbidding, even sinister, mien as Kahakauwila deconstructs the aloha myth. --Carol Haggas

Review

“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

This is Paradise gives us a raw view of local color in all of its perplexities and pleasures....[The stories] give us a picture of island life quite disturbing at the heart of thingsthe other side of paradise.” —Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered

“Gritty, haunting, and suspenseful. This is Paradise navigates an ocean of tension between tourists and islanders in paradisiacal, paradoxical Hawai'i.” —Kristy Davis, O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“[A] sparkling debut story collection....A writer with one foot in the native Hawaiian community and the other in the mainland mainstream gives us an edgy, unmistakably authentic glimpse of the harder side of island life. Kahakauwila captures in six related stories the striving lives, colorful pidgin dialect, and varied relationships that anchor and challenge her strikingly drawn characters.” —Lisa Shea, ELLE

“[This is Paradise] is as breathtaking as a trip up the Na Pali Coast — not a lighthearted day at the beach, but culturally complex, historically significant, and something special in the world.” —Daily Candy

“Excellent....Accomplished. This Is Paradise [is] a collection from gifted newcomer Kristiana Kahakauwila.” Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“Vivid storytelling and unflinching candor make this collection haunting.” Cleveland Plain Dealer

Filled with an energy and outrage reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaid....Kahakauwila’s debut short-story collection offers a stirring glimpse into the daily lives of contemporary Hawaiians torn between native traditions and the pull of mainland lifestyles.” Publishers Weekly

“One can almost smell the tropics emanating from each page, thanks to Kahakauwila’s startling and vivid imagery. With prose like a riptide, This Is Paradise is the perfect way to mentally transport you to Hawai'i from the comfort of home.” BookPage

“Kahakauwila is an admirable storyteller, able to give characters depth and draw in her audience while evoking strong emotions with spare language. Reminiscent of Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s similarly gritty, no-holds-barred view of life in Hawaii, she is a fresh new voice to be watched.” Library Journal

“Finely wrought work from an impressive new talent. Tourists don’t see the Hawai'i 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.” Kirkus

“Cogent explorations of regret, remorse, ambition, and ambivalence can take place anywhere on earth, but in a land known for its beguiling enchantment, such fatalism takes on a forbidding, even sinister, mien as Kahakauwila deconstructs the aloha myth.”  Booklist

“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

“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 a impressive debut by a writer to watch.” —ALIX OHLIN

“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

More About the Author

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. An assistant professor of creative writing at Western Washington University, Kristiana splits her time between Bellingham, WA, and Hawai`i.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 77 customer reviews
Brilliant stories about real life in Hawaii by a native Hawaiian.
Sara Stamey
Having read the entire book in the sequence it was written in, I have to say that it did take me awhile to really get into the stories.
worldwidejlok
Kristiana Kahakauwila captures that complexity very well in this collection of short stories.
Andrew S. Rogers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I know my review of this beautifully written modern collection of short stories is going to win me negative feedback. Nevertheless I am going to tell it Like I feel. The stories are depressing and sad. Yes, it is clear that the natives have no use for the tourists except for their money. I get this and I understand it.

The title story should be punctuated This is Paradise? It is a sad a dreary story. I skipped the story about cockfighting but I may come back to it later when I have some time. The Road to Hana was a story of two people who aren't connecting very well and their sad relationship. It also includes a dreary, hearbreaking story of a stray dog.

The story about 39 Rules for Making a Hawaiian funeral into a drinking game, is clever but it seems a tired story to me and once again emphasizes the dreary and depressing aspects of family life.

So the stories are written in a modern minimalist style, leaving out lots of details and descriptions. The title story is about several different groups of women and the story jumps around without a clear explanation of who is talking. This is a popular style of writing now and the critics seem to like it.

Overall I was hoping for something a little more attractive even if id does show the dark side of life for the people who live in rather than visit Hawaii.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Viviane Crystal VINE VOICE on June 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a collection of stories that are interrelated only by theme, what it means to be a modern Hawaiian native. No it's not hula dances and luaus but it's a deep love of the land and people, a sense of home filled with the sound and smell of surf and lush vegetation. More and more, it's about the traditional changing to modern. The first story titled "This is Paradise," is about a group of native girls who meet a tourist in their explorations of bars and beach; the tourist meets a shocking end which points out the bond of protection the native girls insist is a singular trait of native-born Hawaiians. "Wanle" is about a tradition of cock-fighting, the questionable death of a young woman's father and her revenge which is to win against the Mafia-style Mr. Oh who controls the game and winners; but the Indian lover of the young woman can't truly understand her obsession here. "Thirty Nine Rules for Making a Funeral into a Drinking Game" is funny but oh so poignant as it reveals the glory and shame of being Hawaiian. These and other stories like "The Old Paniolo Way" about a dying Hawaiian and his children and caretaker in many ways remind this reviewer about growing up and facing issues in life like any other person, but there is a definite Hawaiian sense of connection and way of seeing things that is sheer loveliness shining in the face of human problems. What's acceptable and what is foreign, the ways of the "haole" or white man, is clearly delineated on these pages. One is left with the question, however, that if such changes come so intensely and deeply, can those traditions survive? That, it seems, is the essence of these wonderfully written slices of Hawaiian life. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Neal C. Reynolds VINE VOICE on August 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There's a feeling of authenticity here. Although I've never been to Hawaii, this collection seems real presenting us the state and its natives as they are. There's a thread of darkness throughout. Tensions between natives and tourists are explored. Those of us who've never been there will gain more of a sense of the area and learn things associated with the state of which we may have been unaware. For instance, I never associated cock fighting with Hawaii, but apparantly it's common since a couple of the stories either involve, or at least mention it.

For sheer reading enjoyment, these are well crafted and satisfying stories leaving me with the hope of reading more by the author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cordelia on July 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We all know the familiar narratives and cliches about Hawai'i--in stunning prose, Kahakauwila exposes the darker side of paradise, what the tourists don't see (or don't want to see). Be prepared: she'll rip your heart out. But it hurts so good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Rogero on July 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
Having visited Hawaii as a tourist, the stories transported me back to that ephemeral paradisal feeling. But even for those who've never visited Hawaii, the imagery will take you there. With complex and interesting characters, the author wove page turning plots that communicated the universal themes of conflict between youth and elder life views, as well as those between residents and tourists. I loved this book and passed it on so others could experience the paradise as well!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The title story, “This Is Paradise,” grapples with race, class, and privilege as the narrator, using the collective pronoun “we,” refers to a group of hotel maids who try to negotiate personal freedom with family responsibility in a story that eventually focuses on the murder of a tourist. Clearly, the title is ironic as this story collection addresses violent crime, abuse, cock fighting, organized crime.

One of the book’s ongoing themes, seen in several stories, is about the loss of one’s father, either through death, moral dissolution, or some other tragedy.

The prose is lucid and unaffected. At times, the collection could be balanced by some humor as in “Thirty-Nine Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funeral Into a Drinking Game.”

“The Road to Hana,” in which a young couple pick up a stray dog and argue on the dog’s fate, seemed incomplete to me, which is too bad because I found the premise intriguing (I’m a dog lover).

My favorite story, “Wanle,” about an eighteen-year-old girl who must escape the cock-fighting ways of her father, has a character arc to it that lends itself to a novel. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kristina Kahakauwila is working on such a book.

All in all, despite some minor flaws, a very promising debut. I look forward to reading the author’s future publications.
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