East Wind, Rain

East Wind, Rain

3.8 11
by Caroline Paul
     
 

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December 1941. The inhabitants of Niihau lead a simple life. Mostly Hawaiian natives, they work the ranch of Niihau's eccentric haole owner, who keeps his island totally isolated from the outside world, devoid of cars, phones, and electricity. But then a plane crash-lands there, and although the villagers rescue the pilot, they have no idea that he has

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Overview

December 1941. The inhabitants of Niihau lead a simple life. Mostly Hawaiian natives, they work the ranch of Niihau's eccentric haole owner, who keeps his island totally isolated from the outside world, devoid of cars, phones, and electricity. But then a plane crash-lands there, and although the villagers rescue the pilot, they have no idea that he has just attacked Pearl Harbor. War has now come to Eden, slowly undoing its tranquillity, widening the cracks in the already troubled marriage of Irene and Yoshio Harada, the island's only Japanese-American couple. It will test everyone's loyalties and all they believe in . . . as Paradise, once within reach, slowly falls victim to its own isolated innocence.

Based on a little-known true event, East Wind, Rain is a provocative and compelling novel of irrevocable consequences for people thrust unwittingly into a devastating war of nations and American identity.

Editorial Reviews

Associated Press
“Tackles the complex issue of national allegiance […] EAST WIND, RAIN, which is based on an actual event, rarely disappoints.”
Hanna Rubin
Paul's graceful, objective tone may be the book's greatest strength. The author of Fighting Fire, an acclaimed memoir of her stint as a San Francisco firefighter, she is at her best describing the sheer physical sensation of being on the island. Sunsets, heat and dust are rendered in tactile detail. The island becomes a force in its own right.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In the wake of Pearl Harbor, an isolated Hawaiian community realizes new fears and questions old loyalties in this novel based on actual events. A lone fighter plane plummets into the secluded island of Niihau, owned by white American Alymer Robinson, on December 7, 1941. Howard Kaleohano, the village elder, spots the downed aircraft and urges its Japanese pilot, Nishikaichi, out of the cockpit. Since the villagers don't have radios and haven't heard of the bombing (or even the war), they don't know what to make of Nishikaichi. Howard decides they should simply wait for Robinson, the island's owner, to arrive. When he doesn't show, Robinson's beekeeper, Yoshio Harada, and Harada's wife, Irene, both Japanese-Americans, are the only islanders who can understand Nishikaichi's account of Pearl Harbor and his own mission, as well as his plans: he's not significantly injured, and intends to destroy his plane and the papers he carried with him. As the young couple wrestles with a sense of U.S. patriotism that has been wounded by past encounters with prejudice, suspicions overwhelm a once peaceful community. Paul (whose twin sister is Baywatch star Alexandra Paul) wrote a memoir, Fighting Fire, about her time as a San Francisco firefighter; her debut novel moves slowly, but with a lyricism that contributes to her characters' development. It's a promising performance. (On sale Mar. 14) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Is ignorance really bliss? Memoirist Paul (Fighting Fire, 1998) seeks to answer that age-old question in her fiction debut, based on a true story. With no newspapers, phones, electricity or transportation system, the private Hawaiian island of Niihau is the last vestige of isolation in the American Pacific. But on Dec. 7, 1941, this world is invaded-not by the bombs that kill thousands on the neighboring island of Oahu, but by a Japanese pilot who lands his fighter plane on Niihau, thinking it uninhabited. Living in this bizarre fiefdom governed by harshly pious owner Aylmer Robinson, the Niihauans are unaware of anything happening off-island, including the world war that has erupted around them. A Japanese-American couple, ranch foreman Yoshio Harada and his wife Irene are the only inhabitants who speak the pilot's language, hence the only ones who understand the implications of his presence. But because the pilot assumes that the islanders know about the war, he gives the Haradas false warnings about future attacks on Hawaii. This causes the couple to question their identities as Americans, as Japanese and as residents of Niihau. For a week, the island's peace is disturbed, and the story becomes a microcosm of the war itself. Issues related to race, nationalism, the place of Hawaii in America and the place of America in the world become central to the way the community deals with its strange visitor. Paul offers a refreshing and interesting vantage point from which readers may reconsider this episode in history. But while she does an excellent job of bringing complex questions to the forefront, her characters often seem stereotypical, even robotic, as they contemplate answers. Flawedallegory of the issues underlying America's role in WWII.
Booklist
“Authentic and dramatic.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“With fluid, often lyrical prose, Paul succeeds at creating a novel that’s authentic and at times artful.”
New York Times Book Review
“Paul’s graceful, objective tone may be the book’s greatest strength . . .When it’s over, we don’t want to leave.”
Associated Press Staff
“Tackles the complex issue of national allegiance […] EAST WIND, RAIN, which is based on an actual event, rarely disappoints.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060780753
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/25/2006
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Paul is the author of Fighting Fire, a memoir of her time as a firefighter in San Francisco, where she still lives. This is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

East Wind, Rain

A Novel
By Caroline Paul

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Caroline Paul
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060780754

Chapter One

When the plane finally crashed, onto the dry, rutted grass and into a fence, it did so with a hiss and a sigh. There was no outcry or fuss. No boom, or bang, or screeching rent of steel. It crashed as if it were already part of the midday sounds of that desolate island, the soughing wind across the scrub, the low snuffle of the surf. It sliced perfectly through the glancing, metallic sunlight. It skittered like scree through the red dirt. It came to rest, crooked as a tree.

As if in deference to the quiet island, it crashed with gracious aplomb; a long, low exhalation, right into the ground.

Two miles away Yoshio Harada sat in a small wooden chair and looked out a window. His wife had scissors in one hand; with the other she bent back an ear. Pieces of his hair fell noiselessly to the floor, wending their way down like small, winged insects. From where he sat he could see the back of the bee shed, and to the right the rise of the brown land. Above that a bleached, cloudless sky. It was only morning, but his face was slick with sweat; every now and then he blinked away its sting from his eyes. All the windows and doors had been pushed, canted, or propped open before they'd sat down, but the breeze they soughtcarried only heat and hardy, finger-sized flies -- shiny, black-bodied athletes undaunted by anything but gale-force winds. And there was the dust. Even now he could see it, stars hovering in the slant of light by the sill, falling with his hair. In the two years they had been here, this is what he knew his wife resented the most, the way the land rose up to mock her in tiny red particles of itself, caking the corners of her eyes, coating the kitchen table and the insides of their child's mouth. Let's go back to Kauai, she'd plead. Or somewhere. Soon. But Yoshio had taken to the dry, harsh landscape and its leaden heat.

Suddenly the scissors stopped. Yoshio straightened and lifted one hand to run it through his black hair. He decided against it; she hadn't moved to look at him head-on, as she usually did, appraising her work with that stern, hard stare. He imagined how silly he looked then, with that band of newly exposed skin like a long white chalk mark around his head.

-Irene, kachan, am I handsome enough for you yet? He wanted to look at her, but she was still behind him.

-Shhtt, she said suddenly. Did you hear that?

-I only hear the sound of my nap calling me.

-I heard something.

Yoshio, sensing that she was serious, listened. He knew all the sounds of this dry, creaking island. It was a habit of his, from back in the days when he had to be more careful than he needed to be now, to keep an ear open, so even now he would stop his horse suddenly, or straighten while checking a beehive, and listen for no apparent reason at all. The smell of her sweat drifted to his nose. He wanted to reach for her hand. He heard nothing out of the ordinary.

-Perhaps Mr. Robinson is back early. He tried to laugh lightly. He laid his hand on his own shoulder in case she wanted to clasp it. Or church is letting out in Puuwai. All those Christians rushing for the dead pig.

She didn't move for his fingers even as he briefly waggled them. They bounced like lonely anenome on a white seafloor, up, down, around. Still, no touch from her own small hand. Instead the floorboard coughed as she shifted uneasily.

-Wild pig, maybe, he continued. He could feel her fingers stiff against his neck, and he knew that her back had straightened and that her mouth was set hard in a line. They're getting as big as the men here, and not nearly as nice. Mr. Kaleohano said one tried to take his cigarette recently.

When she didn't laugh he said, Sweet, and half turned and reached for her wrist, but she stepped away. He dropped his arm on his lap and clasped his palms together, squeezing tighter than he meant to.

-When we're done, he said, I'll check the fences.

She didn't answer, so he repeated himself and noted she glanced at him distractedly, as if she'd just remembered he was there.

-Yes, okay, she said.

-Are we done, by the way? Do I look like Mr. Clark Gable?

She laid the scissors down on the kitchen table and flapped at the errant hair on his shoulders. He could see each black sliver rise like a moon into the air to meet the invisible, inevitable silt before fluttering silently to the floor. She listened one more time, her cupped hand poised at his neck.

Finally she shrugged.

-Perhaps it was a pig, she said. But she glanced out the window and frowned.

The plane lay still. It was hard to believe that its final seconds had been so wondrous. In another circumstance such a nebula of sparks could have birthed a galaxy. But that was then; once they burned themselves out, there was only utter quiet, as if the place the plane had carved through time and space and dirt was a momentary void in the world. Above, a mynah bird circled clumsily and stared, incredulous to find a plane where her favorite fence post should be. On this driest Hawaiian island, there were no lush trees or balloon-size leaves to cover the wreckage; the vertebrae and fibulae and phalanges of metal lay exposed to the sky, as if angry grave robbers had recently looted. There was the propeller, twisted and grotesque like some huge and evil flower. Farther away, a tire, thrown beyond the kiawe tree. The pilot was slumped and unmoving, with one of his arms thrust . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from East Wind, Rain by Caroline Paul Copyright ©2006 by Caroline Paul. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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