“Vividly imagined, beautifully written, at times almost unbearably suspenseful—the stories in Kristiana Kahakauwila’s debut collection, This Is Paradise, are boldly inventive in their exploration of the tenuous nature of human relations. These are poignant stories of ‘paradise’—Hawai’i—with all that ‘paradise’ entails of the transience of sensuous beauty.” –Joyce Carol Oates
“Gritty, haunting, and suspenseful. This is Paradise navigates an ocean of tension between tourists and islanders in paradisiacal, paradoxical Hawai’i.” –Kristy Davis, O, The Oprah Magazine
“[A] sparkling debut story collection… A writer with one foot in the native Hawaiian community and the other in the mainland mainstream gives us an edgy, unmistakably authentic glimpse of the harder side of island life. Kahakauwila captures in six related stories the striving lives, colorful pidgin dialect, and varied relationships that anchor and challenge her strikingly drawn characters.” –Lisa Shea, ELLE
Elegant, brutal, and profound—this magnificent debut captures the grit and glory of modern Hawai’i with breathtaking force and accuracy. In a stunning collection that announces the arrival of an incredible talent, Kristiana Kahakauwila travels the islands of Hawai’i, making the fabled place her own. Exploring the deep tensions between local and tourist, tradition and expectation, façade and authentic self, This Is Paradise provides an unforgettable portrait of life as it’s truly being lived on Maui, Oahu, Kaua’i and the Big Island. In the gut-punch of “Wanle,” a beautiful and tough young woman wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps as a legendary cockfighter. With striking versatility, the title story employs a chorus of voices—the women of Waikiki—to tell the tale of a young tourist drawn to the darker side of the city’s nightlife. “The Old Paniolo Way” limns the difficult nature of legacy and inheritance when a patriarch tries to settle the affairs of his farm before his death. Exquisitely written and bursting with sharply observed detail, Kahakauwila’s stories remind us of the powerful desire to belong, to put down roots, and to have a place to call home.
Kristiana Kahakauwila is a hapa writer of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), German, and Norwegian descent. Her first book, This is Paradise: Stories, takes as its heart the people and landscapes of contemporary Hawai’i and was named a 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Kahakauwila earned a BA in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Michigan. She was a 2015–2016 Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study and is an Associate Professor at Western Washington University. She also mentors in the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.