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This Is Paradise: Stories

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  772 ratings  ·  179 reviews
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 expec
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Hogarth (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  772 ratings  ·  179 reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Rebecca
I read this in May but since it was part of a postal book swap I am just now posting a review. I lost the photo I took of the story by story review I wrote in a notebook, but I have a distinct memory of some of these stories so I'll do my best.

These are not tourist stories. Thank goodness. They are much more about the people of Hawaii in their many forms and in their own struggles. One very memorable story, I think the first one, juxtaposes older women with a tourist who dies on the beach. The o
John Arfwedson
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kristiana Kahakauwila’s debut collection of stories is a beautifully expressed bundle of unexpected, original, authentic offerings. (Full disclosure: Tiana, as I then knew her, was my student as a high school junior in 1997-1998.)

All the stories are set in Hawaii and its essence deeply, almost religiously, binds and animates the literature she makes. If you’re white, like me, and grew up on the American mainland from the 1950s onward, you, along with about 230 million of your current co-Caucasia
Bonnie Brody
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Welcome to Hawaii, land of Talk-Story, pidgin English, native Hawaiians, and Haoles (whites). It is a place of great beauty where many of the native Hawaiians relish their silences and mourn family members who have abandoned them for the mainland. Elders are known as Auntie or Uncle and are treated with respect. These stories take the reader to Maui, the big island of Hawaii, and Oahu. Talk-stories are abundant and through them we learn of the wonderful oral narrative of the indigenous peoples w ...more
Bhargavi Balachandran

What brilliant debut! Though the themes of the stories were not vastly different from one another, I quite enjoyed reading most of the stories. From the chilling 'This is Paradise' story about a young tourist who glimpses the shady and dangerous side of the Island to the complicated relationships between sibilings and their father in 'The old paniolo way' , Kristiana weaves magic with her words. I loved the fact that Pidgin is used liberally and many non-english words weren't italicized. The con
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just reviewed this one and I loved it. Another fave book of the year!

Check out the review here:
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think This is Paradise was brilliant in both style and how it handled the different themes. Although it is set in Hawaii and contains so much of that culture which is interesting in itself, the themes of the stories transcend the culture. Anyone can identify. I will not go into every story since they are each different and best experienced first hand but the story I thought I would like least because of the format, "Thirty-Nine Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funeral Into a Drinking Game" could be ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous, satisfying short story collection about Hawaii like you’ve never seen it before! I am amazed by Kahakauwila’s literary prowess—her ability to empathetically depict complex relationships between locals and tourists, boyfriends and girlfriends, children and parents; her elegant yet gritty prose; her adeptness capturing pidgin English in dialogue; and her unique points of view (first person plural in “This is Paradise” and second person in “Thirty-Nine Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funera ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I was born and raised in Hawai'i, and always say that Hawai'i is my mother. I love her fiercely, and I am her sharpest critic (but God help the poor fool that disses Hawai'i in front of me). The stories in this collection are achingly human, Hawaiian or not. The most relatable were "This is Paradise" and "Thirty-Nine Rules..." All of them revolve around the all-too-familiar theme (especially for us mixed-plate specials :)...)of identity. Some of the pidgin is right on, and some of it seems awkwa ...more
Stacey D.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Hawai'i is a tropical paradise, but that's mainly true for tourists. In this briefish collection of stories, the author explores what it means to be an island native and it's not always paradise. The title story is harrowing and shows both the gritty reality of Hawaiian life for the locals, as well as the seedy dangers of travel. It was also my favorite, told from the alternating points of view of hotel housemaids, yuppy natives and locals. Most of the stories have a poignant or at least, not so ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was anxiously awaiting to read this book of short stories, of life in Hawaii, written by a Native. Most are very depressing and oft times accentuate how non-natives are really not welcome and have little understanding of the "land". These aren't "touristy" stories, unless it was to debase tourists. One or two stories held my interest, but overall, the book was just average. A little disappointing.
Joseph Reynolds
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Eh. Too moody. Hard to like.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I adored this collection of six short stories set in Hawaii, covering the world of locals and tourists, the flashy veneer of hotels and beaches, the mix and clash of cultures and social classes.

Kahakauwila's Hawaii is not the one we see in the tourist brochures -- it's there, a little, if you squint -- but the world she writes about is both alien and familiar. Her characters are locals in a tourist town, some charmed by the flash and the out-of-towners, others dismissive.

I loved almost all of t
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it
I read an interview with this author where she says the recurring character in all of her stories is Hawaii. Indeed, she does an excellent job of developing "her." From the shape of boulders in upcountry Maui, to the smell of the air when it rains, to the delicious sourness of pickled vegetables, to the curve of a paddling surfer's back ("like a smile"--I loved this), it was clear that the stories were written by someone with a visceral connection to the islands. Her descriptions of place are lo ...more
Nadine Jones
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
These stories were gritty, sad, engaging, wistful, and full of life. Told from Hawaiian women’s POVs, these were like a woman’s counterpoint to the equally excellent collection Lucky Man. The author is skilled in describing a world and culture in unfamiliar with and letting me feel a part of it.

This is Paradise -The first story was powerful. IT was probably the best story in the collection.
Wanle- The second story is about cock fighting, and also about family, honor, love, revenge, peace, and los
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
For me, the best story is the first one in the collection, "This is Paradise." I love the the different perspectives and the coalitional mourning it ends with. Of course, the one about the funeral, "39 Rules for Making a Hawaiian Funeral into a Drinking Game" is an instant classic. The last story, "The Old Paniolo Way" was really intimate. The other stories didn't grab me as much, but all are readable with some underlying moments of pretty wicked humor that you can see in the titles, but especia ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up to read because of the setting, but was pleasantly surprised by the engaging writing style and varied characters and issues in these stories. Would recommend for own voices representation of Hawaiian culture and society.
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Jun 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: united-states
You'll really love it! :)
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting short story collection by a Hawaiian author.
Kelli Estes
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and raw. I loved these stories!
Tanya Taimanglo
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I savored this for a long while. Each story taught me something, as well as mirrored island life.
Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Kristiana Kahakauwila’s fiction debut is a gorgeous collection of stories about Hawaii. Most of us think of Hawaii as a tourist paradise of leis, luaus, and surfing lessons, but the islands Kahakauwila brings to life have a different flavor. Her Hawaii is a little bit gritty, a little bit dirty. It’s home.

“In my last semester at college I took a course in poetry and read the writers who once influenced him: Basho, Issa, Buson. They write about the beauty and majesty of nature, and I understand w
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, netgalley
I started reading this thinking it was some kind of whodunit situated in Hawaii. Well, this one was nowhere close to that kind of story. Kristiana's skill lies in layering the narrative with emotional moments until the story's conclusion, where you are relinquished from its grip or drawn closer as if you were personally involved. I remember participating in a haiku competition one year in college. My mentor, if he could be called that, said that it was important to have an aha! moment in the las ...more
John Beck
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I have a tall stack of short story collections on the "to-read" shelf of my Bookcase of Unread Books. I've read a number of stunning short story collections in the last couple of years. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, The Lone Surfer of Montana Kansas, Postcards, Natasha and Other Stories. None of them were as gut-wrenching, as multifaceted, as damn good as Kristiana Kahakuwila's This is Paradise.

Across six short stories (really, a couple of them, "This i
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved the variety of lives and experiences Kahakauwila imagines and records in her book of short stories. I have a particular affinity for stories about estrangement from one's homeplace, especially when there are distinct cultural differences between new home and old home. In these stories, many of the characters are returning home, or deciding when they should leave. Her stories also capture the multiple populations of Hawaii and their levels of connection to this special place -- and their ...more
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
As I've written in the past I don't tend to care for short stories. I was drawn to this book because of the location of the tales - Hawaii. It holds a special place in my heart and I felt I would enjoy the stories of a native Hawaiian. I am not sure that "enjoy" is the word to use in describing these powerful vignettes. They are not easy, touristy tales of a grass skirt Hawaii. They are nitty-gritty stories of the difficulties of being native in a place being taken over by a society very differe ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really exceptional debut from Kristiana Kahakauwila, and I'd highly recommend this to any reader out there who wants a short story collection that crackles with life, authenticity, and complexity.

As indicated on the front flap, which describes the stories, the titular story is told from the perspective of different women in Waikiki (hotel maids and young professionals). The young professionals narrative voice really chafed me, but I suspect this has much to do with my own frustrations of feelin
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Short story collections are always a crap shoot--some stories are excellent while others are forgettable, and very few manage to make every single story readable. This is one such book. Kahakauwila is a sensational writer and does an excellent job of revealing the other side of Hawaii beyond the sunshine and rainbows that mainlanders see on tourist brochures. Her Hawaii is gritty and beautiful with a dash of criminality, and the people are proud to call it their home. I loved the fact that she i ...more
This is Paradise: 5*'s: From the first paragraph, this story is ominous and authentic with an edge of humor. The author's voice is loud and clear. Written from 3 different 1st person POV's tracking a visitor to the island, at first I was a little confused, until it came full-circle back to the original group of narrators. The story was very compelling and fast-paced, and I was still shocked at the ending, even though I saw it coming. The way the three different groups handled it was masterfully ...more
Brilliant from start to finish.

With short story collections, you often end up in a situation where you like some stories a lot more than others. There's usually some that fail to hold your interest, or which utilise themes that you're not altogether sure about, or which try to be experimental and different to the others to their detriment. This was not the case in This Is Paradise. I found every single one of the six stories in this collection utterly enthralling. Each one is fundamentally diffe
Lydia Presley
This is Paradise is a set of six short stories written by Hawaiian native, Kristiana Kahakauwila. I accepted this book for review for a few reasons. First, I am a new transplant to the island of O'ahu and am dealing with some interesting cultural shifts as a result so I wanted to understand more of what exactly makes up the divide between the tourists, the transplants, and the native (i.e. born here and lived here for their lifetimes) Hawaiians. Secondly, I am looking into going to graduate scho ...more
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