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!

2015 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards: UH Press Nominees

KaPalapala2015-inviteThe 22nd annual Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards celebration is scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 6 to 9 p.m., at Imin Conference Center (Jefferson Hall) at the East-West Center, which adjoins University of Hawai‘i’s Mānoa campus. Hawaii News Now reporter/commentator Howard Dicus will again be the ceremony emcee. The awards are presented annually by Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association to honor Hawai‘i’s finest books and their authors, illustrators, designers, and publishers.

Titles with a 2014 copyright date were eligible for this year’s awards. UH Press has a wonderful group of nominees (listed alphabetically by author’s name):

North Shore Place Names: Ka‘ena to Kahuku, by John R. K. Clark
(Excellence in Hawaiian Language, Culture & History)

Ocean to Plate: Cooking Fish with Hawai‘i’s Kusuma Cooray, by Kusuma Cooray; designed by Mardee Melton
(Excellence in Cookbooks; Excellence in Design)

Hawaiian Plant Life: Vegetation and Flora, by Robert J. Gustafson, Derral R. Herbst, and Philip W. Rundel; designed by Mardee Melton
(Excellence in Illustrative or Photographic Books; Excellence in Natural Science; Excellence in Design)

‘Ike Ulana Lau Hala: The Vitality and Vibrancy of Lau Hala Weaving Traditions in Hawai‘i, edited by Lia O’Neill Keawe, Marsha MacDowell, and C. Kurt Dewhurst
(Excellence in Hawaiian Language, Culture & History)

Kua‘āina Kahiko: Life and Land in Ancient Kahikinui, Maui, by Patrick Vinton Kirch
(Excellence in Hawaiian Language, Culture & History; Excellence in Nonfiction)

Sovereign Sugar: Industry and Environment in Hawai‘i, by Carol A. MacLennan
(Excellence in Nonfiction)

From Race to Ethnicity: Interpreting Japanese American Experiences in Hawai‘i, by Jonathan Y. Okamura
(Excellence in Nonfiction)

I Ulu I Ka ‘Aina: Land, edited by Jonathan Osorio
(Excellence in Hawaiian Language, Culture & History)

The Watersmart Garden: 100 Great Plants for the Tropical Xeriscape, by Fred D. Rauch and Paul R. Weissich
(Excellence in Natural Science)

Local Story: The Massie-Kahahawai Case and the Culture of History, by John P. Rosa
(Excellence in Nonfiction)

Call Me Captain: A Memoir of a Woman at Sea, by Susan Scott
(Excellence in Nonfiction)

Wahine Volleyball: 40 Years Coaching Hawai‘i’s Team, by Dave Shoji with Ann Miller; designed by Julie Matsuo-Chun
(Excellence in Special-Interest Books; Excellence in Design)

Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers: Craft, Creativity, and Cultural Heritage in Hawai‘i, California, and Australia; by Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson
(Excellence in Special-Interest Books)

The Value of Hawai‘i 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions; edited by Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua
(Excellence in Nonfiction)

In addition to the above UHP titles, ones distributed by UH Press were nominated by their respective publishers:

‘Io Lani: The Hawaiian Hawk; photographs by William S. Chillingworth with essays by John L. Culliney

Breaking the Silence: Lessons of Democracy and Social Justice from the World War II Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp in Hawai‘i, edited by Suzanne Falgout and Linda Nishigaya

Secrets of Diamond Head : A History and Trail Guide, by Denby Fawcett

Lihu‘e: Root and Branch of a Hawai‘i Town, by Pat L. Griffin

Keka‘a: The Making and Saving of North Beach West Maui, by Sydney Lehua Iaukea

Reflections of Honor: The Untold Story of a Nisei Spy, by Lorraine Ward and Katherine Erwin with Yoshinobu Oshiro

For a complete list of this year’s nominees, read the Hawaii Book Blog post.

Kudos and good wishes to all!

Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014 Announced

Earlier this month, Choice, the official publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries, announced their annual list of Outstanding Academic Titles reviewed in the magazine during the previous year. The list represents less than ten percent of 7,300+ books and other media titles reviewed by Choice during 2014. We are pleased to have the following UH Press books recognized for their excellence:

Sears-mockup4.inddSituated Testimonies: Dread and Enchantment in an Indonesian Literary Archive
by Laurie J. Sears

“Drawing on contemporary psychoanalytic scholarship, Sears has produced an important study on trauma, memory, and the mediated power of language. She shows how close readings of colonial and postcolonial literature can be, indeed must be, part of the historical archive.” —Choice (February 2014)

Rujivacharakul_front1-UHP.inddArchitecturalized Asia: Mapping a Continent through History
edited by Vimalin Rujivacharakul, H. Hazel Hahn, Ken Tadashi Oshima, and Peter Christensen
Spatial Habitus: Making and Meaning in Asia’s Architecture
Published in association with Hong Kong University Press

“This is an ambitious historiographical intervention into architectural/art historical accounts of ‘Asia.’ In contrast to studies that take the continent’s boundaries as cartographically or ontologically given, this volume emphasizes how Asia has been constructed and produced since the early modern period. . . . A valuable resource for specialists in art history, architectural history, anthropology, history, geography, religion, cultural studies, and Asian studies.” —Choice (September 2014)

Zhuangzi: Text and Context by Livia Kohn and distributed by UH Press for Three Pines Press, was also recognized as a 2014 Outstanding Academic Title.

Authors George and Willa Tanabe Honored with JCCH and HHF Awards

On June 21, UH Mānoa professors emeriti George and Willa Tanabe will be honored by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i with the Spirit of JCCH award, as community leaders who exemplify Japanese American values of Hawai‘i. The award follows last month’s Historic Hawai‘i Foundation recognition of the Tanabes for their book, Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i, with a Preservation Media honor award.

There’s still time to reserve a seat at the JCCH Sharing the Spirit of Aloha awards gala, where you can bid on a hardback copy of Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i in the silent auction. (We also donated a copy of Shiho Imai’s Creating the Nisei Market, which explores the history and importance of Japanese American merchants in Hawai‘i.)

Congratulations George and Willa!

Photo caption: UH Press executive editor Pat Crosby
joined authors George and Willa Tanabe, and book designer
Julie Matsuo-Chun at the 2014 Historic Hawai‘i Foundation
Preservation Honor awards.

Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i: An Illustrated Guide | 2012 | 256 pages
Paper ISBN 978-0-8248-3679-5 | Cloth ISBN 978-0-8248-3663-4

2014 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards: UH Press Nominees

KPP2014-award-inviteNow marking its 21st year, the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards are presented annually by Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association to honor Hawai‘i’s finest books and their authors, illustrators, designers, and publishers. This year’s awards presentation is scheduled for Thursday, April 24, 6 to 9 pm, at the East-West Center auditorium, with local news reporter/commentator Howard Dicus as the ceremony emcee. Watch the HawaiiNewsNow Sunrise show on the morning of April 23 for a story on the awards.

Titles with a 2013 copyright date were eligible this year. The UH Press nominees are:

The Hikers Guide to O‘ahu: Updated and Expanded, by Stuart M. Ball, Jr.
(Excellence in Special-Interest Books)

Restoring Paradise: Rethinking and Rebuilding Nature in Hawai‘i, by Robert J. Cabin
(Excellence in Natural Science)

Ma‘i Lepera: Disease and Displacement in Nineteenth-Century Hawai‘i, by Kerri A. Inglis
(Excellence in Hawaiian Language, Culture, and History; Excellence in Nonfiction)

Brothers under a Same Sky, by Gary Pak
(Excellence in Literature)

Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i: An Illustrated Guide, by George J. Tanabe and Willa Jane Tanabe
(Excellence in Special-Interest Books; Excellence in Design) UPDATE: Winner of the Award of Excellence in Special-Interest Books

Best wishes to each of our nominees!

Waves of Resistance Wins Baldridge Prize for History

Walker-WavesCongratulations to BYU-Hawaii history professor Dr. Isaiah Walker on being awarded the Kenneth W. Baldridge Prize for his book, Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in Twentieth-Century Hawai‘i. The prize was announced by the Hawai‘i chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta honor society at their annual regional conference held March 8 at the University of Hawai‘i’s Mānoa campus. The Baldridge Prize recognizes the best book in any field of history written by a resident of Hawai‘i.