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.

The Confessions of a Number One Son


The Confessions of a Number One Son
written by Frank Chin
edited with an introduction by Calvin McMillin

2015 | 280 pages
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-3892-8 | $24.00
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-3926-0 | $45.00

“Chin takes the reader on a twisted trip, packed both with raunchy comedy and poignant tenderness. . . . McMillin did an excellent job of keeping Chin’s writing intact while cutting out repetitions or segments that went nowhere [and] should also be applauded for compiling one of the best biographical sketches of Chin, to date. The publication of “Confessions” affirms Chin’s rightful place as a literary giant, not only within the confines of Asian American literature, but in the global literary world.” Nichi Bei Weekly

“Suspense builds as the novel becomes a darkly comic struggle with illusions, expectations and secret desires. . . . [Chin] writes fluidly, creates strong characters, and has a playwright’s ear for dialogue.” —Honolulu Star-Advertiser

“A spontaneous mix of reality and fantasy in this book contrasts with the underlying message about the damage people of color have endured because of racial prejudice. . . . Chin’s unique characters, with names like Gravelly Lake Ponders and Lily, the forty-three-year-old ex-nun, interact with convincing craziness.” —Foreword Reviews

“This heretofore unknown work captures the birth of a consciousness that is neither Asian or white American, but a third thing we witness being forged in the mind of its author. Its publication now should spur renewed interest and a critical reevaluation of the entirety of Frank Chin’s work, and cement his literary legacy.” —The International Examiner

UHP in Berkeley, CA | Bay Area Book Festival

BABFlogowithChronLogoBay Area Book Festival

Indoor/Outdoor Free Festival

June 6-7 | Downtown Berkeley’s Art District, CA
Find more information here.
Drop by our booth for a great discount on some of our most popular titles!

The Blind WriterCall me Captain Marathon Japan Changing Chinese Cities
216 pages
Paper | 978-0-8248-4798-2 | $25.00
Cloth | 978-0-8248-3958-1 | $50.00
Sameer Pandya will be a presenter at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference on Monday, June 8. For more info, click here.

Call Me Captain: A Memoir of a Woman at Sea
Susan Scott

336 pages
Paper | 978-0-8248-3981-9 | $19.99

Marathon Japan: Distance Racing and Civic Culture
Thomas R. H. Havens

240 pages
Cloth | 978-0-8248-4101-0 | $47.00

Changing Chinese Cities: The Potentials of Field Urbanism
Renee Y. Chow

224 pages
Cloth | 978-0-8248-5383-9 | $45.00

Debut Fiction: The Blind Writer by Sameer Pandya


PandyaCOVER1.inddThe Blind Writer: Stories and a Novella
by Sameer Pandya
February 2015 | 216 pages
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8284-3958-1 | $50.00
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8284-4798-2 | $25.00
Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies

This collection gathers together the title novella along with five short pieces that follow the lives of first- and second-generation Indian Americans living in contemporary California. The characters share a similar sensibility: a sense that immigration is a distant memory, yet an experience that continues to shape the decisions they make in subtle and surprising ways as they go about the complicated business of everyday living.

“Sameer Pandya’s stories are fine-tuned and precise, and carry an emotional load that breaks open inside us in ways that are, by turns, delicate and explosive.” —Gretel Ehrlich, author of The Solace of Open Spaces and Facing the Wave

“Pandya writes with grace and authority about characters revealed to us through their fears and dreams, mistakes and successes, longing and regrets.” —Keith Scribner, Oregon State University

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.

Singapore poems, essays, and fiction



Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore
edited by Frank Stewart; guest edited by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

2014 | 240 pages
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-4797-5 | $20.00
Manoa Journal

The summer 2014 issue of MANOA Journal features work by over two dozen writers and translators. Images in the issue come from several sources: the British Library, National Archives of Singapore, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Singapore, and contemporary photographers Nina Papiorek, Salvador Manaois III, Peter Marlow, and Stuart Franklin. Fiona Sze-Lorrain served as guest editor.

Find more information on the Starry Island blog.