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Book Review: Haoles in Hawaii

If you’re interested in Hawai’i or just interested in critical race studies, you ought not miss Haoles in Hawai’i. I found it to be a fast, accessible read, mercifully short and to the point, unapologetic without being polemical and one-sided, and highly educational.

Literally translated “haoles” are foreigners, but in contemporary Hawai’i, “haoles” include all white people, including those born in the islands. Living as they do in a state of racial limbo, at once the power elite by race in the U.S. (and Hawai’i is most definitely even if reluctantly part of the U.S.) and as both a racial …

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Blog Reviews

Book Review: Baseball in April

Baseball in April and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by one of the dons of Latino literature in the U.S., Gary Soto. It was first published in 1990, but it remains relevant today – a classic.

The stories in the collection filled me with nostalgia for my own childhood (or at least the parts of it where I wasn’t being beat up for being a fag). It reminded me of the resilience of children who, somehow, nearly always manage to find their way to the cracks in the oppressive forces that too often isolate and …

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Columns Reviews

Book Review: Unfamiliar Fishes

I found this book to be one of the most readable and entertaining texts on the history of Hawai’i since Cook, and I’ve read a lot of them. It’s practically the history of Hawai’i as a beach read. In fact, I read most of it on a beach in Hawai’i.

Vowell’s writing is accessible and her sources are contemporary. Contemporary is good, because a lot has been learned about Hawai’i history in the last 30 or so years, and a whole generation of Hawaiian academics have changed the way we understand the traditional English language historical materials while adding Hawaiian …

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Columns Reviews

Book Review: Shoal of Time

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders occupy an awkward space in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) coalition. Many groups call themselves API, but the PI is often absent. In some cases, it doesn’t appear that PIs were ever present to begin with. With this in mind, I undertook a project of reading everything I could get my hands on about Hawaii as a first step in building my knowledge of the PI in the API and toward grappling with my own history. This book, one that I first read many years ago, was the first in the series.

Shoal of

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Columns Reviews

Book Review: Aloha Betrayed

A must-read for those interested in Hawai’i. Much of the colonial history of the islands is built around the notion that the “bloodless revolution” was an indication of the passive consent of the Hawaiian people to the takeover of Hawai’i by white business interests. This book uses Hawaiian language resources to demonstrate that Hawaiians did in fact resist, and powerfully, and by so doing, puts a whole new spin on an often-told story that has served to justify the evil of colonization to Hawaii’s children for generations.…

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Book Review: The Glass Palace

At the risk of sounding cliche, Amitav Gosh’s The Glass Palace is an important book. It’s importance begins with the subject matter – a one-hundred year span of history that unfolds in India, Malaya (now Malaysia) and Burma (now Myanmar), all countries of which most Americans, myself included, know precious little. The book addresses the impact of colonialism in the region over these one-hundred years by telling the stories of three generations of families whose lives are bound together by political change.

The sweep of history is breathtaking, carrying the reader through two world wars, and the independence movement that …

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Book Review: Uncle Swami

A South Asian friend of mine once told me that 9/11 broke her heart; that after 9/11, she felt life for her as a South Asian woman would never be the same. How life changed for her is part of a richer story of what 9/11 meant for South Asians that is at the heart (or at least serves as the hook) of Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today, by Vijay Prashad.

Uncle Swami took me just four or five hours to read, a real plus for a slow reader with a short attention span. It opens …

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Columns Reviews

Book Review: The Warmth of Other Suns…Now, Go Ahead, Read It!

 

Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns is a great read. I know I’ve said this already, but I want you to read it, now, if you haven’t already. Then I want you to tell me what you think of it. Seriously.

The Warmth of Other Suns is a compelling account of the great migration of African Americans who fled the South for Northern cities in the early to late-mid 20th century. The migrants whose stories are shared were driven out of the South by the humiliations and horrors of Jim Crow and drawn Northward by stories, many …

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Book Review: To Barbara Kingsolver and Julie Otsuka After Reading You

As a nerdy gay boy growing up in a rural, working class town in the 60’s, novels were my escape route. Consider the wonder of a kid destined for a life as a laborer upon first encountering Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown children’s stories. Encyclopedia Brown is the hero because he’s a thinker! It opened a window on the world in a wall I didn’t even know existed.

Today, I still read, and Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite literary figures. Not only is she a very good writer, she’s also the founder of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for

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Columns Reviews

Django In Chains: Why Revenge Is Just For The Movies

The controversy regarding Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is all over the internet. From the fight between Tarantino and Spike Lee, who refuses to see the movie because he says it’s sure to be “disrespectful of my ancestors,” to criticism of the character Broomhilda, who many say is less an attempt at a depiction of a person than a foil driving the action among the male characters.

I saw the movie. I generally seek out rather than avoid media that draws this kind of controversy because I want to know what all the fuss is about. When it comes to confrontations …