(L to R) Tokiko Bazzell, Monica Ghosh, Mire Koikari, Samuel Yamashita, Roy Yamaguchi
Pomona College history professor Samuel Yamashita‘s lecture on what he calls the “Japanese Turn” in fine dining drew a full house to University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Hamilton Library last week (April 17). Audience members included well-known chef Roy Yamaguchi, who was part of this “turn” during his years in Los Angeles when he pioneered Euro-Asian cuisine. As a tie-in, advance copies and flyers were displayed of Professor Yamashita’s new UH Press book, HAWAI‘I REGIONAL CUISINE: The Food Movement That Changed the Way Hawai‘i Eats. His talk was related to the library’s exhibit by Japan collection librarian Tokiko Bazzell, “Washoku: Japanese Foods & Flavors,” which is on display until May 27 in Hamilton Library’s First Floor Elevator Gallery.
Read the wonderfully comprehensive information and view more photos on the event here. Yamashita will be returning to Honolulu in mid-July to launch Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine; meanwhile, order the book here. If you would like to be notified of the July events, contact Carol Abe in the UH Press marketing department. Mahalo to the UH Libraries and other sponsors for hosting Professor Yamashita during his UH Mānoa visit: UHM Center for Japanese Studies, UHM Department of American Studies, UHM Department of Women’s Studies, Kapi‘olani Community College, and UHM Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED).
UPDATE: Listen to Noe Tanigawa’s interview of Samuel Yamashita on Hawaii Public Radio (HPR) about the “Japanese Turn.”
One of the raffle items at the APALA awards dinner—a bracelet with mini book covers of the winning titles.
In 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.
Having 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.”
I 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!
Popular Culture Association
American Culture Association
2015 Annual Conference | New Orleans, Louisiana | April 1-4
Contact Acquisitions Editor Stephanie Chun: firstname.lastname@example.org
Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance
278 pages | 41 illustrations | Music and Performing Arts of Asia and the Pacific
Cloth | 978-0-8248-4094-5 | $42.00
Eating Korean in America: Gastronomic Ethnography of Authenticity
208 pages | 12 color illustrations | Food in Asia and the Pacific
Cloth | 978-0-8248-3935-2 | $39.00
With the Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival now past for another year, let’s catch up with a few more soon-to-be-happening author events.
Saturday, May 10, 2:00 pm:
Carol MacLennan will present and sign her new book, Sovereign Sugar: Industry and Environment in Hawai‘i, at Basically Books in Hilo, Hawai‘i island. Please attend if you’re in East Hawai‘i or reserve a signed copy by contacting the bookstore. If you’re not in Hilo and missed her talk at the festival, you can still listen to the Hawai‘i Public Radio interview on HPR2’s The Conversation that aired last month.
Monday, May 12, 6:00 to 7:00 pm:
San Diego resident Leilani Holmes pays a brief visit to Kaua‘i and will speak at Lihue Public Library about her search for Hawaiian identity as told in her book, Ancestry of Experience: A Journey into Hawaiian Ways of Knowing. By including hula as part of her talk, she transforms her presentation into an engaging performance. Listen to the wide-ranging interview that aired April 8 on American Indian Airwaves, KPFK Public Radio.
Tuesday, May 13, 7:00 pm:
Robert Ji-Song Ku, author of Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA, will join an intriguing panel at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles to explore the growing influence and role of Asian Americans as food trendsetters in L.A. and—perhaps—nationwide.
The inaugural title in the Food in Asia and the Pacific series—
California roll, Chinese take-out, American-made kimchi, dogmeat, monosodium glutamate, SPAM—all are examples of what Robert Ji-Song Ku calls “dubious” foods. Strongly associated with Asian and Asian American gastronomy, they are commonly understood as ersatz, depraved, or simply bad. In Dubious Gastronomy, Ku contends that these foods are viewed similarly to 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.” The American expression of Asianness is defined as doubly inauthentic—as insufficiently Asian and unreliably American when measured against a largely ideological if not entirely political standard of authentic Asia and America.
In critically considering the impure and hybridized with serious and often whimsical intent, he argues that while the notion of cultural authenticity is troubled, troubling, and troublesome, the apocryphal is not necessarily a bad thing: The dubious can be and is often quite delicious.