Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: Lester Higata's 20th Century

Author: Barbara Hamby
Publisher/Format: University Of Iowa Press (2010),e-book: 184 pages
Characters: Lester Higata, his mother Higata, his wife Katherine Subject: life in the Japanese American community
Setting: Oahu Island, Hawaii
Genre: Short Stories
Source: Net galley, ebook from the publisher

Short stories are one of my favorite genres and Barbara Hamby has written a superb collection.  Set in Hawaii from World War II forward, she captures the cadence and ambiance of the setting perfectly.  I lived in Hawaii for two years, back in the 1970's, and then moved to Japan.  My exposure to the Japanese Hawaiians helped ease the culture shock of that move.  As I was reading Hamby's eloquently written dialogue, I could hear my best Hawaiian friend "Auntie" in her lilting sing-song local dialect.  I had no trouble with the vocabulary but the author provides a robust glossary of terminology for those unfamiliar with the language.

As I read, I found myself comparing this to another of my favorite short story collections: the Pulitzer Prize winner: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  Lester Higata and Olive Kitteridge have much in common.  They are involved in many different aspects of their communities, they are aging, the stories in the collections give us a beautiful and fully developed character, and an insight into the life of those in the settings.  Hamby's linked stories include a look back to Lester's wounding in the war and his marriage to a haole (white) woman of whom his mother dusapproved, and give us a sense of community among the other inhabitants of Lipona street.  A truly rewarding reading experience.

A special thanks to the University of Iowa Press for providing the egalley for review. I look forward to seeing other offerings from this author.

1 comment:

  1. OHhhh...great week in books Tina, Tabloid City and the Saramago book really appeal to me. enjoy


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