Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Song of the Exile” as Want to Read:
Song of the Exile
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Song of the Exile

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  891 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
In this epic, original novel in which Hawaii's fierce, sweeping past springs to life, Kiana Davenport, author of the acclaimed Shark Dialogues, draws upon the remarkable stories of her people to create a timeless, passionate tale of love and survival, tragedy and triumph, survival and transcendence. In spellbinding, sensual prose, Song of the Exile follows the fortunes of ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 5th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Song of the Exile, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Song of the Exile

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 17, 2012 Sandy rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've ever read - I may select it as my next book club pick. I had a hard time getting into it, but it ended up being a beautiful book. The story takes place in and out of Hawaii before, during, and after World War II and before statehood. Somehow it blends the horrors for women in WWII with stories about native Hawaiians - their early pidgen talk, tales passed down through generations, the human spirit, the power of women, and much, much more. Kiana Davenport's writ ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
It's been awhile since I read Shark Dialogues, and I'd forgotten the sensual Hawaiian-ness in Davenport's writing style. Every one of the senses is wide awake and open to a deep experience of the physical world.
Mar 06, 2017 Elstirling rated it it was amazing
Powerful read about interesting characters and meaning of home.
Laurie Hanan
May 23, 2013 Laurie Hanan rated it it was amazing
If anything, I loved this book even more than Shark Dialogues. It haunts me in a way I can't describe. The images it left me with will always be with me. The author, through interviews with World War II survivors, managed to grasp the abominations of war as well as anyone could. She hauntingly articulates the horrors war inflicts on both the conqueror and the conquered, and how the two are sometimes interchangeable.

The books opens with Sunny, held in the most horrific conditions imaginable, in a
Martha Alami
Aug 06, 2015 Martha Alami rated it it was amazing
I rarely give a book 5 stars, but this book is not only a great literary work, but also brought to my attention a topic of which I was completely unaware. Until I read this book I did not know that hundreds of thousands of women were enslaved in prisons by the Japanese during World War II, tortured and murdered and that no one really has spoken of this until some of these women came forward in the 1990s. Additionally this book is an education in Hawaiian forklore, customs and traditions. Kiana D ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it
I actually read this when it was first published but had not remembered until a few pages into it, but it was so good I decided to read it again.

It's a very poetic novel and she describes music better than any writer I've ever read. It's a good story with good characters and she possesses that amazing ability to take you to the place she writes about.

It's one of those beautiful novels you almost have to put down because the imagery and poetry is so intense it doesn't absorb you as much as it p
Nov 02, 2013 Sealove rated it it was amazing
A truly moving tale about the lives and tragedies surrounding WWII and the melting pot of pacific cultures called Hawaii.

The author explores relationships between men and women, duty and destiny in ways that are striking and unforgettable.

This is a portrait that I will never forget... Not an easy one to take in, but a powerful tale and a story that makes me a more empathetic and compassionate storyteller! Well done!
Sep 04, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful but difficult books to read.....her prose reads like poetry and the historical information contained in the plot is well researched and of my top 10 favorite books...
Lindsey Sandberg
Jan 24, 2016 Lindsey Sandberg rated it liked it
I am utterly, thoroughly gutted.
Mar 01, 2017 Kathie rated it really liked it
I can't remember ever reading a book written in such a poetic style. Every sentence, phrase, paragraph is filled with words that emote longing, yearning, passion, angst, sorrow. This is not a "and everyone lived happily ever after" story. It is filled with people searching for each other, for themselves, for revenge, for understanding, for self-preservation, for love, for survival. Set in pre-WWII Hawaii, the main characters, Keo and Sunny, find themselves in Honolulu, Paris, China, and Rabald ( ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Phil rated it it was amazing
I believe Song of the Exile is too good to be a bestseller. It’s now available in paperback. I read a hardback edition previously found on the shelf of a public library, which sold it to a used book outlet. So what if it isn’t a bestseller? The popular writers, someone said, rarely withstand the test of time. This book should endure, however, just as its main character survives unimaginable adversity.
Prepare to move among five settings — Hawaii, New Orleans, Paris, Shanghai, and a Japanese priso
Stephanie Fujii
Oct 08, 2012 Stephanie Fujii rated it liked it
This book, at the core, was interesting. However, I felt that it was flawed in many ways, which ultimately took away from how much I enjoyed the experience of reading it.
1. Lots of great and intriguing historical information (Hawaii becoming a state, WWII, Hawaiian folklore and mythology, comfort women)
2. Some of the characters had interesting lives - mostly ones that didn't get near enough focus - but they were enjoyable to read for the most part

1. WAY WAY WAY too much desc
Song of the Exile by Kiana Davenport is a historical fiction novel set in the islands of Hawaii. The novel is about two characters, Keo and Sunny and their romance but also how they are torn apart by World War 2 and the Japanese invasion of Hawaii. The two lovers are first drifted apart when Keo makes the decision to leave his home and love, Sunny, in Hawaii and go to New Orleans in America to try and carry out his career as a musician so that he can return and provide a better life for Sunny an ...more
May 06, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: landscape-novels
Aleluya!!! Finalmente lo terminé! No es que el libro sea malo es que evoca demasiadas emociones fuertes y te deja mentalmente agotada.

La verdad que es fantástica la forma de narrar de Kiana Davenport, realmente me sentí viviendo en Honolulu todo este mes. La historia sigue las vidas de Keo un nativo de Honolulu cuya pasión es el jazz y a Sunny una joven coreano-hawaina que estudia en la universidad pero que es la persona que le da el empujón a Keo para que salga al mundo a conocer las ciudades
Dec 13, 2016 Mark added it
Song of the Exile is an extraordinary, powerful, heartbreaking novel. It follows the lives of Keo, a native Hawaiian who burns to play jazz, and Sunny, a Korean/Hawaiian student, as they fall in love, are separated by the tides of World War II, and try to find each other afterwards. Through a series of events Sunny is taken as a comfort woman by the Japanese. Her experiences are utterly heartbreaking. Keo's search for her is equally devastating.

The early chapters set in Hawaii are transporting.
Heather Munao
This book tore me apart. It's a love story, a story of a young woman trying to reclaim family and do the right thing after living in a broken family, but it is so much more. There are so many powerful dynamics in here that enriched my soul to know about:
1. the "comfort women," or women abducted by the Japanese army to be sex slaves for the soldiers all over the South Pacific. The human rights violations Sunny endured are vomit-inducing. Learning of the comfort women through this book led me to r
Jul 26, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rated-five-stars
"Ha'ina mai ka puana." Let the story be told.

I read Kiana Davenport's books several years ago, in order starting with "Shark Dialogues", which had such a powerful effect on me that it continues to haunt me. The first time I read "Song of the Exile" I became so overwhelmed by the horror and sorrow suffered by the main characters that I could not recall any specifics about the story, left with only the vague feelings of decay and loss beyond comprehension. So I finally decided to pick up the book
Marie Carmean
Aug 03, 2015 Marie Carmean rated it really liked it
I started out a little unsure I was going to like this book....Davenport's florid prose was over-the-top, which is unusual in a modern book. Though I enjoyed much of the poetic turns of phrase (some were literary genius!), certain phrases turned inside out, and were annoying. The longer I read, the more entranced I became however in the story, and in Davenport's unique style. There was so much about jazz that I felt it was too much, but I thoroughly enjoyed the complexity of the tale, and the ch ...more
Apr 18, 2007 Arianne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Vanessa, Cindy, Carolyn
I read this book in Peace Corps and haven't read it since, but I dreamt about it for years, and have finally discovered what the title is again. I am definitely going to re-read it.

Here is the synopsis:

In this epic, original novel in which Hawaii's fierce, sweeping past springs to life, Kiana Davenport, author of the acclaimed Shark Dialogues, draws upon the remarkable stories of her people to create a timeless, passionate tale of love and survival, tragedy and triumph, survival and transcendenc
Aug 12, 2015 Dana rated it it was amazing
The book is hard to convey in short form. Song of Exile follows a native Hawaiian family as their world changes around them. It touches on sweet new love, trying to be "better" than the station into which you were born, the need to see a bigger world than the one you know, and having the rhythm of life ground you to your homeland through family, through experience and through being a part of the very nature of the huge leaves, rains, dirt and fog. It follows people as they leave to find their fo ...more
Very good. I would have given this book five stars if not for the ending, which I feel was not as strong as it should have been to finish off this amazingly written book. I would have liked to see more closure between the characters, and more resolution for one of the book's major storylines.

I could wax poetic about this book for a while, but it's fairly late at night so I'm going to have to leave it at this: this book is the work of an artist. The words paint pictures in your head with stunning
Sep 16, 2015 Pam rated it it was amazing
Five stars for the descriptions of old Hawaii so tangible you can smell the ginger and taste the huli huli chicken. you can walk into an old style Kalihi house, take your slippers off and feel that you are there. Took me back to my childhood in Hawaii just before Statehood. Thank you Kiana for transporting me to that magic place.
Five stars for the story--so deeply disturbing and sad-- of the women captured in WWII and persistently destroyed by men taught by war to exchange humanity and dignity f
Dec 14, 2011 Brittney rated it really liked it
I love books about Hawaii. I love the mysticism innately woven into any story about its history. Like "Shark Dialogues," this one did not disappoint. I never knew about comfort women and beyond being hideously shocked and outraged by their treatment during WWII, Davenport has created a fantastic mix of Hawaiian culture blended with wartime atrocities, of Jazz music and the cries of loss flowing into one melody. Yes, there are some lengthy descriptions that do not necessarily contribute to plot, ...more
Oct 18, 2008 Janet rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I absolutely loved Kiana Davenports other book 'Shark Dialog' and was excited to come accross her other books by accident.

I enjoy reading about Hawaian history as well as the people and landscape of the islands. Kiana Davenport does a masterful job of transporting you to not only the beauty of the islands but also the horrors of war. I must say I was not prepared for the path the characters Sunny and Keo end up taking. At times I was tempted to put the book down, it was just too difficult to dig
Al Canary
Jun 07, 2012 Al Canary rated it really liked it
Published in 1999..... I only recently discovered this Author on the listing & ordered this title )from my Public Public Library together with "House of Many Gods (2006)

The Library gave my a blank on "Shark Dialogs" (1994) Hmmmmmm, which I was able to find via Bookreads source listing (Amazon Used Books)

Expecting 'Historical Ficton' I was moved to tears by the writers almost dreamlike prose taking the reader thru some of the most horrifying atrocities against the so-called "comfort women" t
Jun 16, 2013 Monika rated it really liked it
Kiana Davenport's stories are magical. There's really no other way to put it. She intertwines multiple histories and story lines into a beautiful tapestry of that slowly pulls you in and then wraps itself around you and doesn't let you go.

Song of the Exile tells the story of a Hawaiian musician who goes to war and leaves his love behind. But that's only one thread. Along the way, we learn about the history of Hawaiian culture and the experiences of the Chinese during the Japan occupation. Daven
Jul 14, 2015 Tiffany rated it really liked it
It's a little slow going at first and I wasn't too interested in the beginning but it definitely got better and overall I enjoyed the book. (Little too wordy and descriptive sometime for my liking though).

I have a love/hate relationship with historical fictions because although they are not "true" stories, it's very humbling realizing things that are described actually did happen to real people. (That's the part I hate, how can people be so cruel?) But I enjoyed that it was written from the Haw
May 29, 2013 Roya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book on a bookshelf in the condo I am renting in Kauai. The blurb sounded intriguing and I enjoy historical fiction. I downloaded the e-book because I was not sure I could finish it before leaving. I have finished it, and the story is a captivating one. It offers a different perspective of World War II history and beyond. I sometimes felt the narrative got bogged down in pages and pages of flowery, poetic descriptions that I sometimes found at odds with, in competition with, and dis ...more
What to say? This is a page-turner but often very, very grim. It is the story of a man and a woman separated by war and the horrible things they each endure, he in a prison camp and she as a "comfort woman" to Japanese soldiers. Horrible, horrible things happen to both of them, but most especially to the woman. The knowledge that this kind of thing really did happen is just too depressing to contemplate. Details about other members of both their families, mostly the man's, are woven into the nov ...more
Mar 04, 2009 Cher rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of the most eye opening stories I’ve ever read. This historical fiction novel paints a vivid, passionate and horrific tale of WWII and its aftermath. The heartbreaking love story is one thing…but the overwhelming cruelty of war is almost too much to bare—nothing like taught in history classes. If you can bear the heart rendering atrocities of the male and female prison camps, you will be rewarded with a rich and moving tale about the culture and history of the Hawaiian people. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • East Wind, Rain
  • The Last Aloha
  • Six Months in the Sandwich Islands: Among Hawaii's Palm Groves, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes
  • House of Thieves
  • Name Me Nobody
  • Broken Jewel
  • Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education
  • People of the Whale
  • Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen
  • Honor Killing: How the Infamous "Massie Affair" Transformed Hawai'i
  • The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization
  • The Mistress of Abha
  • Forever & Ever (Wyckerley Trilogy #3)
  • Night Trains
  • The Betrayal of Liliuokalani: Last Queen of Hawaii 1838-1917
  • Color of the Sea
  • Calligraphy of the Witch
  • Bones Beneath Our Feet
KIANA DAVENPORT is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother, Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing. On her mother's side, Kiana traces her ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Isl ...more
More about Kiana Davenport...

Share This Book

“We must live. Or what have we suffered for? Will these years have been for nothing?” 0 likes
More quotes…