Posts Tagged ‘fiction’


A Dozen of 2008’s Best Books

December 15, 2008

alfredAlfred & Emily
By Doris Lessing
In this intriguing blend of novel and memoir, Doris Lessing combines aspects of her parents true lives in World War I England with an imagined world in which their paths took very different turns. Also, on this list of bests should be Ms. Lessing’s Stories.

mercyA Mercy
By Toni Morrison
While not always a convincing narrative, A Mercy is still a complex and powerful fable set in colonial America. Ms. Morrison once again shows that she is one of America’s finest writers.

book-coverBetween the Deep Blue Sea and Me
By Lurline McGregor
How does heritage impact one’s life? This is the primary question behind Lurline McGregor’s debut novel. Responsibilities to past, present and future are explored in the absorbing Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me.

By Tim Winton
Seemingly a novel about surfing, Breath is a haunting coming-of-age story. Tim Winton blends his talent for beautiful prose with a tale of youthful fervor and fear – and learning to live with both.

a-case-of-exploding-mangoesA Case of Exploding Mangos

By Mohammed Hanif
In this extremely timely satirical novel, Mohammed Hanif uses his biting wit to illuminate the complex events of modern-day Pakistan (and, yes Virginia, it is funny).

By Justine Picardie
Okay, I’m a geek, but I loved this story of Daphne du Maurier and her obsession with the Brontës (especially Brontë brother Bramwell). Daphne sucked me in with its twisting tale within a tale storyline.

godGod and Gold
By Walter Russel Mead
In this compelling look at the spread of a common English-speaking culture, God and Gold argues that the United States is the logical successor of Great Britain’s empire building. While the connections are sometimes a little murky (or missing), Mead rationalizes the rise of the Anglo-Americans.

irregThe Irregulars
By Jennet Conant
The Irregulars is a fascinating telling of kids book author Roald Dahl’s life before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach when he lived the clandestine life of a spy. Perhaps not the most historically relevant story, it is nonetheless entertaining.

northernThe Northern Clemency
By Philip Hensher
Booker Prize finalist Philip Hensher has a way with language that shines through in this well told tale of English family life. The Northern Clemency combines an impressive ability to animate both characters and settings with a skilled comic timing to craft an immensely satisfying narrative.

not-quiteNot Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
By Rachel Fershleiser
Compiled from submissions to SMITH magazine, which asked readers to send in six-word memoirs. From “most successful accomplishments based on spite” to “found true love, married someone else,” these snippets give fleeting insights into how people see themselves and those around them. Too bad, I can’t write a six-word synopsis.

unaccustomed_earthUnaccustomed Earth
By Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth is a stunning collection of stories. Ms. Lahiri hauntingly illuminates both the ties that bind families together and the rituals that doom them to isolation. Her masterful portrayal of cultural and generational chasms provides a definite “must read.”

ft_vowellThe Wordy Shipmates
By Sarah Vowell
Another nod to my inner geek, Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates makes the list of top books of 2008. An amusing concoction of pilgrim history and pop culture, The Wordy Shipmates definitely entertains.


Book Review: Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me

December 11, 2008


Update – 12/17/08: Kekoa Enomoto wrote a very cogent review of Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me for the Maui News. Additionally, the Hawaiian language newscast ‘Aha‘i ‘Ōlelo Ola (CBS affiliate KGMB-TV) covered the launch of this debut novel.

In the voice of darkness, birds stirred with anticipation. The approaching daylight separated sky from earth. By the time the first rays of the sun reached the top of the Ko‘olau Mountains, the birds were already in full chorus, celebrating the arrival of a new day.

On the leeward coast of O‘ahu, a Hawaiian woman, ageless as the ocean, stood in the mystery, ready to carry out her role in the morning ceremony. Water lapped as the tide rose. Into the darkness, facing the intense calm of the water, she began to chant. The primal sound of her voice was filled with the power of those who came before her. Her song carried out to sea.

So begins award-winning filmmaker Lurline McGregor’s first novel, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me.

Turning her cinematic eye to a story that inherently resonates with so many of us, McGregor delves into what makes a native person native. Expanding upon the question of nature versus nurture, she tells the tale of a woman – Native Hawaiian by birth, western by upbringing – who is forced to confront the dichotomy of her indigenous past with the realities of the 21st century.

book-coverWithin this riveting story we follow the protagonist Moana Kawelo on her quest to reconnect with her kū‘auhau (heritage) and understand what it means to be a Native Hawaiian in the modern world.

The exploration of cultural consciousness in Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me has received enthusiastic reviews from around the native world. The Chairman of the Board of the national Native Arts and Culture Foundation, Walter Echo-Hawk, raved, “Wow! What a moving story about the spiritual side of Native life in modern-day Hawai’i.”

potiki“It is an intriguing story of modern Hawai‘i, its legacies and therefore its concerns,” shared Patricia Grace, Māori author and winner of the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature. “It is a story contextualized by the connectedness between generations, land, culture and spiritual guardianship – all drawn together in a ‘now’ time.”

Author Lurline McGregor continued, “Just as the movie Whale Rider was able to present an authentic Māori experience while speaking to a broader global audience, our Hawaiian stories can also be used to inspire people worldwide.”


Daviana McGregor at the launch of Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me

At the book’s launch party, Muscogee poet and author Joy Harjo eloquently reflected on the power of the native voice presented in Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me. “We are all indigenous peoples, we can all trace our lineages to a time when our ancestors listened to the earth.” Native Hawaiian activist and author Davianna McGregor (and Lurline’s cousin) continued, “Lurline gives us a story that articulates the past and the present – land, repatriation, and spirit are forged together to create an engrossing tale of modern and ancient Hawai‘i.”

Lurline McGregor autographs copies of her new book, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me

Lurline McGregor signs copies of her new book

Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me is published by Kamehameha Publishing. For more information, click here.