In the Footsteps of Frank Chin on Maui

McMillin_CONOS&magMany of the characters and locations featured in Frank Chin‘s The Confessions of a Number One Son are based on the author’s experiences living on Maui over four decades ago. In 1969, Chin taught at San Francisco State, but decided to take a break from teaching and move to the island, where he worked as a carpenter with some old friends from Berkeley. Over time, Chin grew anxious to return to the mainland, but found that he couldn’t afford a plane ticket home.

As fate would have it, he learned of a playwriting contest sponsored by the East West Players, a showcase theater for Asian American actors in Los Angeles. The top prize was a thousand dollars. Over the course of several weeks, Chin wrote and submitted a play, and eventually found himself sharing the award with Momoko Iko—thereby earning half of the prize money, which was more than enough to buy a plane ticket back to California. That prize-winning play was The Chickencoop Chinaman and the rest, as they say, is history.

McMillin_IaoNeedleThis August, forty-five years after Chin left Maui, editor Calvin McMillin decided to travel to the island to investigate the writer’s old haunts, especially those featured in the novel. He visited Wailuku, located at the mouth of ‘Iao Valley and near the landmarks of ‘Iao Needle and ‘Iao Stream (historically known as Wailuku stream). As Calvin reported after his trip, seeing the lush and beautiful natural environment in person added a new understanding of the novel’s Hawaiian backdrop.

McMillin_IaoTheaterAfter visiting the historic Iao Theater, Calvin followed in Frank Chin’s footsteps (and more recently, those of Anthony Bourdain) by eating at Tasty Crust, an old-fashioned local diner in Wailuku, and concluded that the startling similarities between Tasty Crust’s breakfast menu and the main character’s diet in The Confessions of a Number One Son was unlikely to be just a coincidence.

“I ate in restaurants. Spam and eggs, canned Vienna sausage and eggs, canned corned beef hash and Portuguese linguica and eggs, and canned ham and eggs out of a typical greasy spoon for breakfast. The mass eats of the white missionary culture and U.S. military now a part of island culture. The wonders of canned processed meat—a part of life every morning—sealed up hunger with grease.” (page 43)McMillin_TastyCrustdiner

Calvin also visited many of the beach locations featured in the novel and drove to Lahaina’s Wo Hing Museum, which offers information about Chinese immigration to Maui in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

To see more of Calvin McMillin’s trip to Maui, visit the official Facebook page for The Confessions of a Number One Son. You can also follow him on Twitter @roninonempty.

Celebrating the “Wonderfully Subversive Power of Libraries and Librarians” as Robert Ji-Song Ku’s Dubious Gastronomy Wins APALA Literature Award for Adult Nonfiction


One of the raffle items at the APALA awards dinner—a bracelet with mini book covers of the winning titles.

APALA-logoIn conjunction with the American Library Association annual conference in San Francisco, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) literary awards were presented at a lively dinner ceremony on Saturday, June 27. Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA by Robert Ji-Song Ku, associate professor of Asian American studies at Binghamton University–SUNY, received the top honor in the adult nonfiction category. While Professor Ku regrettably was unable to attend the event, his prepared remarks were read by UH Press development director Colins Kawai, who accepted the award on his behalf. The speech is worth sharing here:

“It is a privilege and an honor to win the 2014-15 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the adult non-fiction category. I am especially honored to receive this award from an association of librarians because, you see, I was practically raised by librarians since I was eight years old when my family immigrated to Hawaii from Korea in the early 1970s.

Ku-Dubious GastronomyHaving to work several jobs between them from before sunrise to long after sunset, my parents could not afford any sort of childcare, after-school programs, or summer camps for their three children. My mother’s solution was to drop us off at the public library for hours on end. And this is how I fell in love with books, which plunged me into the world of dinosaurs, great white sharks, and faraway galaxies. It also led me to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, and Maxine Hong Kingston’s girlhood among ghosts, white tigers, and shamans.

I believe it was the filmmaker Michael Moore who said of librarians: “They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.”

Ku,RobertI couldn’t agree more. The fact that I went on to earn a PhD in English literature, become a professor of Asian American studies, and author books about Asian Americans is a testament to the wonderfully subversive and revolutionary power of libraries and librarians. No, I don’t mess with librarians; I give them props!

I thank the University of Hawai‘i Press for publishing my book, and especially my editor, Masako Ikeda, for believing in my book from the very get-go. I thank my family—my wife Nancy and twin boys Eliot and Oliver—for everything under and above the sun. But most of all, on this day, I thank the members of APALA for bestowing upon me this incredible honor.”

All of us at UHP join him in giving props to librarians everywhere!

Hawaiian Historical Society hosts UHP author John R. K. Clark

Author John R. K. Clark turns to the Hawaiian newspaper archives to create rich reference guides filled with primary resource accounts of places in Hawai’i — his latest title, North Shore Place Names, comes from a lifelong passion for surfing and fascination with Hawai’i’s home of legendary winter swells. This title is an important example of one of many transitions in research style for scholars of Hawai’i — please take a look at his Hawaiian Historical Society lecture by clicking on the image to the left.

His latest title, North Shore Place Names, can be found on our web store.

UH Coach Dave Shoji to Sign Wahine Volleyball at Bookstore Launch Events

Shoji-coverIn Wahine Volleyball: 40 Years Coaching Hawai‘i’s Team, Dave Shoji, legendary coach for the University of Hawai‘i women’s volleyball program looks back at four decades to tell his story along with that of the Rainbow Wahine. With the assistance of longtime sports-beat writer Ann Miller, Hawai‘i’s winningest coach provides an exclusive look at the state’s perennially successful athletic team.

Coach Shoji and Ann Miller will appear at book-signings scheduled for mid-November:
Wednesday, November 12, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at University of Hawai‘i Mānoa Bookstore (See the bookstore’s Facebook for their special offer)
Saturday, November 15, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana Center
UPDATE 11/10/14: Third signing added:
Friday, November 28, approximate time 10:00 to 11:00 p.m., following the match against UC-Riverside, on the concourse near Gate B and the UH Athletics’ H-Zone shop at the Stan Sheriff ticket office. Books will also be for sale at the H-Zone Ward Center shop.

In the coming weeks, books will become available at other retailers as well as the above and directly from UH Press.


Wahine Volleyball: 40 Years Coaching Hawai‘i’s Team
Dave Shoji with Ann Miller
November 2014 | 240 pages plus 8-page color insert
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-5141-5 | $45.00 (wishlist)
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-5142-2 | $19.99

John Rosa Presents Backstory to Local Story, His Book on the Massie-Kahahawai Case

AUTHOR EVENT Rosa-LocalStory_NativeBks

Please join us on Sunday, August 10, 2 to 4 p.m., at Native Books/Nā Mea Hawai‘i, as UH-Mānoa history professor John Rosa gives an illustrated talk on his book, Local Story: The Massie-Kahahawai Case and the Culture of History. He will discuss how he researched the book and why the 1931-1932 case continues to have relevance in today’s Hawai‘i. While other books have told the “true crime” details of this case before, Dr. Rosa retells the story and shows how this narrative explains the beginnings of a non-white, “local” identity among Hawai‘i’s working-class people.

Light refreshments will be provided at the free presentation and books will be available for purchase and signing. Native Books is located at the ‘ewa end of Ward Warehouse (1050 Ala Moana Blvd.); phone: 808-596-8885.

Read more about Dr. Rosa’s research on the book in Kaunānā, UH-Mānoa’s online research publication. Also, listen to his April 2014 interview on HPR2‘s The Conversation.

2014 | 176 pages | 978-0-8248-3970-3 | Paper | $19.99

Michael French Smith Writes about PNG on Longitude and HuffPost


For travelers searching for books and maps about their destination, Longitude has been the go-to resource since 1999. In the July issue of its newsletter highlighting travel to Indonesia, Michael French Smith’s A Faraway, Familiar Place is the featured book for Papua New Guinea and includes an excerpt from his post that appeared earlier on the Longitude blog.

A Faraway, Familiar Place: An Anthropologist Returns to Papua New Guinea is available at a newly reduced price of $35 from UH Press or the Longitude bookstore (where although the price still shows at the original $52, the new price is in effect).

See also Smith’s article on Huffington Post about the political climate and preferential voting system of PNG.