A Gem of a Review

Karleen C. Chinen, editor of the Hawaii Herald, reviewed Voices from Okinawa in the August 21, 2009, edition of her newspaper. Subtitled “A Gem of a Book for the Eye and the Soul,” the review begins with these stirring words:

Every time an elder passes, a library is lost.

This African saying came to mind as I read the personal essays that make up Voices from Okinawa, the latest edition of Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing.

Thanks to the foresight of co-editors Frank Stewart, series editor for Manoa Journal, and Katsunori Yamazato, professor of American literature at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, an important part of five “libraries” has been preserved in a collection that captures the Okinawan experience in the post-plantation era. In their own voices, Hawai‘i Okinawans June Arakawa, Philip Ige, Mitsugu Sakihara, Jon Shirota and Seiyei Wakukawa share their experiences as Okinawans.…

Together, the writers’ stories paint a well-rounded picture of Okinawan identity—their love for their music and dance, but also the issues that have conflicted them. Voices is a journey inside the heart and soul of the Uchinanchu.

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Photo by Christina Liu.

Chinen summarizes some of the pieces and quotes from others, ending her review with the reflections of Stewart:

“Each of these people deserves a prominent place in the memory of Hawai‘i as a community of immigrants. Their stories are all different, but each shows the resilience of Okinawans to persist in bettering themselves and the community as a whole.”

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Mitsugu Sakihara (third from right) shown here with then Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono (photo courtesy of K. Chinen).

Our deepest thanks to Karleen Chinen for bringing Voices to the attention of Hawaii Herald readers.

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