East Wind, Rainby Caroline Paul
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/em>… See more details below
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.
The New York Times
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- 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.
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East Wind, RainA Novel
By Caroline Paul
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 Caroline Paul
All right reserved.
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 . . .
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