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

APALA-raffle_bracelet

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!

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Popular Culture Association | UHP in New Orleans

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Popular Culture Association
American Culture Association

2015 Annual Conference | New Orleans, Louisiana | April 1-4

Contact Acquisitions Editor Stephanie Chun: chuns@hawaii.edu


spillerJavaphilia

Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance

Henry Spiller

278 pages | 41 illustrations | Music and Performing Arts of Asia and the Pacific

Cloth | 978-0-8248-4094-5 | $42.00


 

Ryang3.indd

Eating Korean in America: Gastronomic Ethnography of Authenticity

Sonia Ryang

208 pages | 12 color illustrations | Food in Asia and the Pacific

Cloth | 978-0-8248-3935-2 | $39.00

Accolades for Chef Kusuma Cooray’s Ocean to Plate Fish Cookbook

Cooray-OceantoPlateBOOK NEWS  |  NEW RELEASE


In the Winter 2015 issue of Foreword Reviews magazine, Ocean to Plate: Cooking Fish with Hawai‘i’s Kusuma Cooray is highlighted as one of its Top Ten Picks from university presses. The book is cited for its “astounding array of Pan Pacific herbs and spices that culminate in two hundred flavor-forward dishes, none of which veer toward tricky kitchen-science projects.”

Kusuma Cooray (seated) is joined by UH Press editorial associate Emma Ching, designer Mardee Melton, and promotion manager Carol Abe at the memorable launch of Ocean to Plate.

The recognition coincided with the VIP book launch last month at Kapi‘olani Community College’s Ka ‘Ikena Laua‘e dining room, where Chef Cooray’s recipes were skillfully prepared and served by students in the KCC Culinary Arts Program.

“The diagrams of fish anatomy, the introductory material, and glossaries alone are worth the price of the book. This is a feast for all who want to add more fish to their home menus but aren’t sure how.”— Wanda A. Adams, writer, cookbook author, and editor of the award-winning seafood guide, A Splash of Aloha

Download the recipe for Bigeye Tuna Steaks with Pearl Onions and Cashews shown on the book cover.


Ocean to Plate: Cooking Fish with Hawai’i’s Kusuma Cooray
by Kusuma Cooray
November 2014 | 368 pages
Paper | ISBN: 978-0-8248-3890-4 | $29.99

Food diaspora, translations of home for Asians and Asian Americans

Ku-Dubious Gastronomy
NEW RELEASE | First in Paper


Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA
written by Robert Ji-Song Ku

2014 | 304 pages | 18 illustrations
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-3997-0 | $28.00
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-3921-5 | $42.00
Food in Asia and the Pacific

In Dubious Gastronomy, Ku contends that dubious foods like California rolls, Chinese take-out, American-made kimchi, dogmeat, monosodium glutamate, and SPAM (to name a few) share a spiritual fellowship with Asians in the United States in that the Asian presence, be it culinary or corporeal, is often considered watered-down, counterfeit, or debased manifestations of the “real thing.”  By exploring the other side of what is prescriptively understood as proper Asian gastronomy, Ku suggests that Asian cultural expressions occurring in places such as Los Angeles, Honolulu, New York City, and even Baton Rouge are no less critical to understanding the meaning of Asian food—and, by extension, Asian people—than culinary expressions that took place in Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai centuries ago.