From the Lanai and Other Hawaiian Stories

Jessica Saiki, Author New Rivers Press $10.95 (115p) ISBN 978-0-89823-127-4
These 17 short stories are as delicately wrought as a lei, with evocative portraits of Japanese-Americans and other Hawaiians, many of them living in the harbor town of Lunalilo. Saiki ( Once, a Lotus Garden ) creates memorable characters with a knack for getting at the truth about people. ``Oribu,'' for example, is the account of a cook's three months in the employ of the wealthy Finches, larded with pithy comments about the couple (``When he Mr. Finch was mad he zipped up his mouth and wouldn't give the time of day to anyone excepting the dogs. He talked to Wimpy and Popeye as though they were his sweethearts. Never talked to Mrs. Finch that way''p.6 ). The stories often have a dark, bitter side, painting racial prejudices between whites and Japanese, and the lost dreams of people doomed to dreary jobs and loveless lives (like Hatsu Sugai, a plump, taciturn woman who is rejected by two suitors because her parents committed suicide). But these are not depressing tales. Above all, Saiki's characters believe that life must go on, and most of them somehow manage to persevere, nursing their wounds and surrounded by the natural splendor of Hawaii. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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