Language of the Geckos and Other Stories
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Gary Pak has emerged as one of the most important Asian Hawaiian writers of our time. In this new collection, Pak expertly crafts a memorable cast of Hawai'i's Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and Native Hawaiians, amplifying our cross-cultural understanding of Hawaiian life today.
- Published: 2012
- Subject Listing: Fiction, American Ethnic Studies
- Bibliographic information: 184 pp., 5.5 x 8.5 in.
- Series: Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies
The nine short stories in Language of the Geckos and Other Stories paint an array of locals caught up in failed dreams of financial success and romantic fulfillment. Many of these stories deal with issues particular to Native Hawaiian perspectives, while others take slice-of-life glimpses at characters alienated in the land of their birth. Pak's sure narrative voice shifts deftly between his actors, shading the nuanced voices and interior lives of housewives, mechanics, cabdrivers, aging hippies, and desperate bargirls. Most of these characters speak in the lingua franca of the islands, a highly developed Creole that is commonly called Pidgin English. Also strongly present is the spiritual ambiance of the land.
The worlds of Pak's Hawaiians, Asian locals, and the haoles sometimes intersect and collide and other times remain parallel, but each world is haunted by the past. Whether Pak evokes shadows of World War II, the Vietnam War, the radical sixties, or the military dictatorship of Chun Doo Hwan in Korea, the larger historical context looms ominously in the background as wounded memories of characters in despair.
Gary Pak is director of creative writing and associate professor of English at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. He is the author of The Watcher of Waipuna and Other Stories and the novels A Ricepaper Airplane and Children of a Fireland.
"In this expansive new collection of short stories, Gary Pak offers with care and tact a multi-voiced and situated portrayal of local Hawai'i today in all its ethnic complexity, cultural risk, and political struggle."
-Rob Wilson, author of Reimagining the American Pacific: From South Pacific to Bamboo Ridge and Beyond
"Gary Pak captures, in each story, one of the most poignant moments of a character's life, giving the reader a glimpse into the complex and disturbing web of ethnic, cultural,gender, and class relationships that make up the human landscape of Hawai'i."
-Shu-mei Shih, author of The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917-1937
Living with Spirits, Writing as Activism: A Preface
A House of Mirrors
Language of the Geckos
Hae Soon's Song
An Angel for Guy Matsuzaki
My Friend Kammy
Ishamel Reed or Me
A Memory for Martin