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In Memoriam: Trần Đình Trụ, 1935-2019

We mark last week’s passing of Trần Đình Trụ, the author of Ship of Fate: Memoir of a Vietnamese Repatriate (UH Press, 2017), with words from the book’s co-translators Jana K. Lipman and Bac Hoai Tran:

Tran, smiling, seated at desk.“Trần Đình Trụ’s life story was one of grace, fortitude, and devotion to his family. A skilled seaman and a naval commander, he journeyed from North Vietnam to South Vietnam as a young man, and then from South Vietnam to the Philippines, Guam, Japan, and ultimately, the United States. In his memoir, he recounts his evacuation from South Vietnam in 1975, his experiences in a refugee camp in Guam, and his decision to return to Vietnam in October 1975 with more than 1500 Vietnamese repatriates as the captain of the Việt Nam Thương Tín. After he successfully navigated the ship back to Vietnam, the new government viewed him and the repatriates with fear and suspicion. Trần Đình Trụ suffered physical and psychological brutality in “re-education” camps for more than twelve years. On release, he finally rejoined with his family and resettled in the United States. Through his memoir, Trần Đình Trụ captured the singularity of his life story and the universality of despair and uncertainty at the end of war. He will be deeply missed by his family and community.”

Read more about the book and Tru’s life in an essay by Professor Lipman that first appeared in The Conversation and was republished on the UH Press blog.

From the Backstage of Publishing: Memories of Milton Murayama

headshot of Milton MurayamaOriginally this post was a way to mark this month’s Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by sharing personal memories from an editorial perspective of a pioneering Asian American literary icon, Milton Murayama. It has grown to include other remembrances from a marketing perspective. We are all proud to be the publisher of his bestselling novels.

Masako Ikeda, Acquisitons:

I only met Milton Murayama once, at the Asian American studies conference held in Honolulu in 1991. I tagged along with Sharon Yamamoto, who acquired his manuscripts for Five Years on a Rock and then Plantation Boy. Nothing at that meeting was particularly memorable as I sort of stood in the background, but I ended up enjoying serving as his managing editor for those two books. We wrote letters back and forth and continued to do so even as the century changed. Most of the time all he said in his letters was that he wanted to buy copies of his books or he was writing a new book, which wouldn’t be finished for a while.

After Five Years our production department held onto an old computer drive knowing that Milton had not updated his system and refused to do so. Our marketing staff coaxed him a number of times: “Milton, I’ll help you set it all up.” He kept sending me hard copy manuscripts with perforations on both ends along with five-inch floppy disks. The manuscript wasn’t complete so he wanted everything back, including the floppy disks, which he couldn’t find anymore. Right before he sent the 4 books by Murayama, standing upright on deskvery final manuscript, which eventually became Dying in a Strange Land, we had gotten rid of the drive, and there was no way to read his WordPerfect files. I ended up asking our Production staffer to keystroke everything, which she did in three days.

Communication with Milton was always interesting and often a little strange. He’d call to complain about the copy editor who didn’t understand that “Pidgin English doesn’t have ellipses points, or letter spaces in between.” He would also hesitate to say “Okay bye” and hang up the phone, so our conversation would go on for a long time with several seconds of dead silence breaking our talks in the most uncomfortable way.

Milton passed away in July 2016, and I didn’t know it until a month later when we saw the obituary in the Sunday paper. I felt guilty for not staying in touch. I do think of him quite often just as I think about Sharon, his true editor, whose passing was almost fourteen years earlier.

Steven Hirashima, Marketing:

My fondest memories of Milton would be visiting his fudge brown three-story home in the hillside area of Glen Park of San Francisco. Whenever I was in town I would always make a point to book a visit. The ritual was always the same. I would call to

5 people, including Murayama and wife Dawn, wearing lei.

L to R: Steven Hirashima, Marie Hara, Milton Murayama, Dawn Murayama, Carol Abe after “Revisiting Murayama” presentation, November 2008.

say I’m leaving the hotel and heading for the Union Square BART Station. Once at Glen Park, I would call to say I arrived and no more than five minutes later Milton would arrive in his old Toyota and we would head up the steep and winding road to his “retreat in the hills.”

Overlooking the flatlands of the city with Candlestick Park and SFO to the west, I would always be given a tour as to what was updated or repurposed around the house since my last visit (the actor Lou Diamond Phillips’s childhood family had been a previous neighbor), from a newly reapportioned sunroom downstairs to a section outside with a bed of spring flowers to Milton’s designated writing room where tucked in a corner would be his antique word processor (a Commodore 64), which I almost convinced him to ditch in favor of a newfangled Mac but he never wavered and remained forever faithful to his trusty machine.

Any trip to the Murayamas would invariably end in the kitchen where Milton and Dawn were the most gracious of hosts. We would often gather around the large formal dinner table for spirited conversation from his next book project or his time in the 442nd, feasting on a bowl of delicious Alaskan King crab legs and steamed garlic brussels sprouts, masterfully prepared by Milton only minutes before. Looking back, they were wonderful and precious times. How I long for another afternoon with Milton. Until then, God Speed and Aloha.

Carol Abe, Marketing:

My very first encounter with Milton was in 1975, the year his original edition of All I Asking for Is My Body published, the green one with the bamboo forest on the cover and an overly large “$3” printed on the back All 5 of Murayama's books, surrounded by clippings and letterscover. He and wife Dawn lined up signings at Honolulu Book Shops, at which I was a bookstore clerk (we weren’t called “booksellers” until twenty years later). Of course I bought a copy with my generous employee discount and had it signed, but didn’t otherwise have a personal connection to him. Jump to 2008: I’d been at UH Press for ten years and we released Milton’s fourth and final novel in his tetralogy about the Oyama family. Steve Hirashima had switched to managing our Asian studies list and I did the same for our Hawai‘i, Pacific, and Asian American titles.

Dying in a Strange Land had a pub date of June but Milton called and said he would wait to visit in the fall, when it’d be cooler, and he only wanted to do low-key promotion of a few bookstore signings. Then, as now, the Press had no travel funds to support a book tour anyway. He finally decided November would be a good time to come and would do Maui and O‘ahu signings, but no readings or talks. So I booked a combination of Barnes & Noble and Borders stores that followed his wishes and filled his itinerary. We corresponded by snail mail and exchanged letters. In one of these, Milton revealed some of the real-life equivalents to the characters in his books. He wrote, “There’s more fact than fiction in my stories.”

After a fan of his scolded me for not paying for his travel and doing him justice, a series of serendipitous things happened that culminated in an event more befitting of a literary icon, “Revisiting Murayama: From Plantation to Diaspora.” Gary Pak, as it happened, had videotaped an interview with Milton that he still needed to screen; the amazing Marie Hara agreed to be co-organizer and was a conduit to both UHM English department and Bamboo Ridge; Craig Howes put me in touch with Phyllis 3 books opened to page showing author signed the bookLook, who had directed a play of All I Asking. The program developed further by recruiting Arnold Hiura, Lee Cataluna, and one of our student employees, Tricia Tolentino, all tied together with Steve as emcee. (And, by rolling the dice, we obtained funding from SEED and Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, including an honorarium for Milton.)

During their visit, I had chauffeured Milton and Dawn to four or five appearances, perhaps being a bit manic in my driving. At the end, I asked Milton to sign my copy of Dying in a Strange Land. We all laughed warmly as I read his inscription: “It’s been fun getting to know you. I love smart flaky women, who’re also good drivers.” It was my honor and pleasure to have been a tiny part of his life.

+++

Each of Milton’s novels can be read separately and not in sequence. Dying in a Strange Land is on sale now, at a very special price—click here to order.

2019 Hawaii Book & Music Festival: UH Press Tent and Author Events

color map of festival layout; UH Press location is circled.The 14th annual Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival happens this weekend, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and UH Press will once again be there! Come to our tent alongside Honolulu Hale, near the Kristi Yamaguchi Keiki Reading Corner, and be among the first to see our newest titles. Also attend several presentations by UHP authors and follow them to our booth for short booksignings before you head off to the next session. Check out the interactive festival schedule here.

Featured UHP titles and presenters:

SATURDAY
📚 Heiau, ‘Āina, Lani: The Hawaiian Temple System in Ancient Kahikinui and Kaupō, Maui will be discussed by coauthors Patrick Vinton Kirch and Clive Ruggles on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Although the book is still at the printer, a set of page proofs will be available to browse and preorder at the event discount. Following their talk, 11:15–11:45, Dr. Kirch will sign copies of two of his most recent titles at our tent: Kua‘āina Kahiko: Life and Land in Ancient Kahikinui, Maui and Unearthing the Polynesian Past: Explorations and Adventures of an Island Archaeologist.
📚 Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia, edited by Evelyn Flores and Emelihter Kihleng, is the inaugural title in The New Oceania Literary Series. On Saturday at 1:00 p.m., series editor Craig Santos Perez moderates a session with several volume contributors—Mary Hattori, Josie Howard, Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo, Angela Hoppe-Cruz, and James Viernes. They’ll head over to our tent to sign copies, 2:15–2:45 p.m.
📚  Palapala: A Journal for Hawaiian Language and Literature has just released its second volume as open-access on ScholarSpace, an online institutional repository for University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Journal editor Jeffrey (Kapali) Lyon speaks on a panel at 2:00 p.m. We will have a few copies of the print edition of volume one at our booth and volume two will be available in print later.
📚  Kahu: Portraits of Native Hawaiian Pastors at Home and Abroad, 1820–1900, by Nancy J. Morris and Robert Benedetto, will be presented on Saturday, 4:00 p.m., by Dr. Morris, Craig Howes, Aaron Mahi, and Kenneth Makuakane. A signing by Dr. Morris is scheduled for Sunday, 2:00–2:30 p.m.festival grounds on sunny day, shows people sitting and tents in background

SUNDAY
📚 Nā Inoa Hoku: Hawaiian and Pacific Star Names opens Sunday’s program at 10 a.m. with Clive Ruggles and coauthor John Kaipo Mahelona (coauthor Rubellite Kawena Johnson is unable to attend). They will sign at the UHP tent immediately following their talk.
📚  Tadaima! I Am Home: A Transnational Family History will have a panel at 11:00, with author Tom Coffman, Larry Miwa, and Stephen Miwa; the latter two are members of the family whose story is told in the book. The three will sign at our booth from 12:15–12:45 p.m. on Sunday. (The background image on the book’s cover is a page from Larry Fumio Miwa’s diary kept as a fourteen-year-old at the time of the Hiroshima bombing—view the page here.)
📚  Hawai‘i’s White Tern: Manu-o-Kū, an Urban Seabird is the basis of Susan Scott‘s illustrated talk, “The Wings of Honolulu’s Wild Side.” Hear her speak at noon and then head to our booth for a signing at 1:15.
📚  A Power in the World: The Hawaiian Kingdom in Oceania, by Lorenz Gonschor will publish in June, however, we’ll have an early proofing copy on display and will take preorders. Dr. Gonschor is a presenter on three Sunday panels, including one focused on his book at 2:00 p.m. Joining him as a discussant is Tiffany Lani Ing, whose forthcoming book, Reclaiming Kalākaua: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives on a Hawaiian Sovereign, will be published in October by UH Press. 
📚 Nā Wāhine Koa: Hawaiian Women for Sovereignty and Demilitarization, by Moanike‘ala Akaka, Maxine Kahaulelio, Terrilee Keko‘olani-Raymond, and Loretta Ritte is one of the books explored in the 3:00 afternoon session at the Humanities Pavilion, sponsored by Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. The book’s editor Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘opua joins the panel moderated by HCH’s new executive director (and UHP author) Aiko Yamashiro. Dr. Goodyear-Ka‘opua signs copies at 4:15 p.m.author Susan Scott on stage and back of people in audience

Other spring releases premiering at our booth:
📚 Wind, Wings, and Waves: A Hawai‘i Nature Guide, by Rick Soehren;
📚 The Past before Us: Moʻokūʻauhau as Methodology, edited by Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu;
📚 Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine: The Food Movement That Changed the Way Hawai‘i Eats, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita.

A limited number of copies of these and many more will be available and we’ll be taking orders for books not on hand, with free US shipping.

Stay updated with the latest news on the festival Twitter feed and check its Facebook posts. See you there!

Samuel Hideo Yamashita on the “Japanese Turn” and Hawaii Regional Cuisine

Five people after library talk, including Samuel Yamashita and Roy Yamaguchi, with librarians

(L to R) Tokiko Bazzell, Monica Ghosh, Mire Koikari, Samuel Yamashita, Roy Yamaguchi

Pomona College history professor Samuel Yamashita‘s lecture on what he calls the “Japanese Turn” in fine dining drew a full house to University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Hamilton Library last week (April 17). Audience members included well-known chef Roy Yamaguchi, who was part of this “turn” during his years in Los Angeles when he pioneered Euro-Asian cuisine. As a tie-in, advance copies and flyers were displayed of Professor Yamashita’s cover of book, Hawaii Regional Cuisinenew UH Press book, HAWAI‘I REGIONAL CUISINE: The Food Movement That Changed the Way Hawai‘i Eats. His talk was related to the library’s exhibit by Japan collection librarian Tokiko Bazzell, “Washoku: Japanese Foods & Flavors,” Yamashita next to Washoku displaywhich is on display until May 27 in Hamilton Library’s First Floor Elevator Gallery.

Read the wonderfully comprehensive information and view more photos on the event here. Yamashita will be returning to Honolulu in mid-July to launch Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine; meanwhile, order the book here. If you would like to be notified of the July events, contact Carol Abe in the UH Press marketing department. Mahalo to the UH Libraries and other sponsors for hosting Professor Yamashita during his UH Mānoa visit: UHM Center for Japanese Studies, UHM Department of American Studies, UHM Department of Women’s Studies, Kapi‘olani Community College, and UHM Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED).

UPDATE: Listen to Noe Tanigawa’s interview of Samuel Yamashita on Hawaii Public Radio (HPR) about the “Japanese Turn.”

2018 Hawaii Book & Music Festival: UH Press Tent and Author Events

Map of Hawaii Book & Music Festival with UHP booth circled.[UPDATED 5/3/18; 5/6/18] University of Hawai‘i Press will be among the local publishers, booksellers, community organizations, and other exhibitors at the 13th annual Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival taking place this weekend, May 5 and 6, at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds next to Honolulu Hale. Admission and parking are free. Visit the festival website to explore its new mobile-friendly schedule, filled as usual with speakers, panels, and activities. Read the latest news on its Twitter feed and check its Facebook posts to share with your friends and family!

UHP authors on the program this year include Sandra Bonura, flying in from San Diego to present Light in the Queen’s Garden, her biography of Ida May Pope—the founding principal of Kamehameha School for Girls—and Patricia Steinhoff, editor and translator of Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogō Exiles. Each will sign books at our tent, located alongside Honolulu Hale on the ‘ewa-mauka side of the grounds (left side of the map above, or click here for a PDF). We’ll have our latest Hawai‘i titles available at a discount and will offer free US shipping on orders taken onsite. Slightly damaged (“hurt”) stock and a few titles in new condition will have special bargain prices.

The schedule below shows participating UHP-related authors and in-booth signings. Other signings will happen on an impromptu basis, so check with us at the event. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Hawaii Book & Music Festival posterSATURDAY, MAY 5
• 11:00 am | Makai Authors Pavilion:  HONOLULU Magazine‘s 50 Essential Hawai‘i Books includes readings by Craig Howes and Jonathan Osorio, editors of The Value of Hawai‘i, and Mark Panek, who has two books on the list: Big Happiness: The Life and Death of a Modern Hawaiian Warrior and Hawai‘i: A Novel (Lō‘ihi Press). The complete list of the 50 Essential titles appears in the May issue; read more by Don Wallace about the selection process here and about titles that almost made the list here.
• 12 noon | UH Press tent: UH Hilo professor Mark Panek signs Big Happiness and Gaijin Yokozuna: A Biography of Chad Rowan.
• 12 noon at the Keiki Stage: The Art In Illustration: Caren Loebel-Fried In Conversation with James Rumford.
2:30 pm | UH Press tent: Volcano artist Caren Loebel-Fried signs Hawaiian Legends of the Guardian Spirit and Hawaiian Legends of Dreams.
• 3:00 pm | UH Press tent: Patricia Steinhoff signs Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogō Exiles.
• 4:00 pm | Mauka Authors Pavilion: UH Mānoa professor Patricia Steinhoff speaks on the real-life story recounted in Destiny by Japanese journalist Koji Takazawa.

• 4:00 pm | Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion: Dana Naone Hall will be on a panel for her book, Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer, distributed by UHP for ‘Ai Pohaku. Due to the late hour, buy the book ahead of time to sign at her talk.

SUNDAY, MAY 6
• 10:00 am | Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion: UHM professor Puakea Nogelmeier, director of the recently founded Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation, speaks on the Ali‘i Letters.
• [Changed to 12 noon on morning of event (was 11:00 am)] | Makai Authors Pavilion: The panel for Ms. Aligned 2: Women Writing About Men (El León Literary Arts) includes Lillian Howan, author of The Charm Buyers and Pat Matsueda, managing editor for Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing.
11:30 am | UH Press tent: Civil Beat columnist Denby Fawcett signs her book, Secrets of Diamond Head.
• 12 noon | Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion: Robert Barclay (author of Melal) and Craig Howes on the writings of Ian MacMillan.
• 2:00 pm | Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion: Sandra Bonura speaks on Light in the Queen’s Garden: Ida May Pope, Pioneer for Hawai‘i’s Daughters, 1862–1914.
2:00 pm | [Last-minute add-on] UH Press tent: Lillian Howan signs The Charm Buyers
3:00 pm | UH Press tent: Sandra Bonura signs Light in the Queen’s Garden.
• 3:00 pm | Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion: Puakea Nogelmeier and Aaron Sala share their mana‘o on the Hawaiian language version of Disney’s Moana.
                 *  *  *