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!

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

UH Press around the Web: May/June Round-up

McDermott&AndradeCongratulations to John F. McDermott, M.D. on being honored by the American Psychiatric Association with the Alice Purcell McGavin Award in recognition of his distinguished career in child and adolescent psychiatry. Along with Dr. Naleen Andrade, Dr. McDermott coedited People and Cultures of Hawai‘i: The Evolution of Culture and Ethnicity. Read more about the award here.

Hawaii Public Radio‘s Chris Vandercook, co-host of “The Conversation,” interviewed UH Hilo associate professor Kerri Inglis about her book, Ma‘i Lepera: Disease and Displacement in Nineteenth-Century Hawai‘i. The show originally aired May 28 on HPR2 but listen to the segment about 38 minutes into the archived show.Inglis-MaiLepera

In commemoration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asia Society’s Farisa Khalid reflected on the life and work of painter Yasuo Kuniyoshi. She included insight from professor ShiPu Wang, author of Becoming American? The Art and Identity Crisis of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, on Kuniyoshi’s contributions to American art. Read the Asia Blog post and view a video slideshow of the artist’s paintings.


Adding to its Samuel M. Kamakau Award for Hawai‘i’s Book of the Year, Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory was recognized by the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation with a Preservation Media award at its annual Preservation Honor Awards ceremony last Friday. Representatives from UH Press and the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (JABSOM) were joined by descendants of David Kupele, who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1915.

With summer almost officially upon us, how ’bout a nice hike up a rocky ridge with a fantastic ocean view? No need to work up a sweat to get a vicarious thrill of hiking with Stuart Ball, author of several UH Press guides. Experience it by reading this Exploration: Hawaii post by Coty Gonzales.