Shark Dialogues

( 17 )

Overview

Spellbinding in its imagery and ancient myths, Shark Dialogues is the stunningly sensual and visionary epic of a Polynesian Hawaiian family, a story of daring, passionate women and men, their losses and triumphs, their comedies and tragedies, their anguish and joy. Set mainly in contemporary Hawaii, it is a spectacular odyssey through fire and water, a journey that begins in the nineteenth century with the fateful meeting of a Yankee sailor and the runaway daughter of a Tahitian chief. Sweeping from that distant ...
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Shark Dialogues

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Overview

Spellbinding in its imagery and ancient myths, Shark Dialogues is the stunningly sensual and visionary epic of a Polynesian Hawaiian family, a story of daring, passionate women and men, their losses and triumphs, their comedies and tragedies, their anguish and joy. Set mainly in contemporary Hawaii, it is a spectacular odyssey through fire and water, a journey that begins in the nineteenth century with the fateful meeting of a Yankee sailor and the runaway daughter of a Tahitian chief. Sweeping from that distant past into the present turbulent decade, Kiana Davenport has woven an astonishing, compassionate portrait of her people, one of personal and political complexities - a surreal and provocative, wise and erotic tale of villains and dreamers, of "stone-eaters" and queens, of revolutionaries, and of lepers and healers. Central to all is the matriarch Pono, a statuesque, pure-blooded Hawaiian, a kahuna, or seer, whose past is shrouded in mystery. Pono's love for Duke Kealoha - a man hidden from the world, a man his daughters and granddaughters have never knownis one of the most haunting love stories of our time, a love that lasts through sixty years, a love so profound she "dares everything, commits every conceivable act for him." As the novel opens, Pono's four granddaughters are converging on her run-down coffee plantation on the Big Island, summoned by Pono in her eighty-fourth year. United by their fear of and devotion to Pono, each woman is of "mixed blood" parentage: Ming - Hawaiian-Chinese, is a lover of art and music, who suffers from lupus; Vanya - Hawaiian-Filipino, is a lawyer and a fiery political activist; Rachel - Hawaiian-Japanese, is a great beauty, obsessed with her Yakuza husband; JessHawaiian-Caucasian, is a veterinarian, whose pale skin makes her "inferior" in Pono's eyes. Never having known their true genealogy "Pono's girls," as they are called, have led tormented, scattered lives. Now, caught up in Pono's spell, feeling a sense of "immi
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A sprawling but compelling first novel, Davenport's gargantuan family epic centers on the awe-inspiring Hawaiian matriarch Pono, a prophet gifted with magic powers, and her four estranged, mixed-marriage granddaughters. The book begins in 1834 with Pono's forebears, a shipwrecked Yankee sailor who had resorted to cannibalism, and a runaway Tahitian princess, and covers large chunks of Hawaiian history before ending up on a present-day island coffee plantation. Using flashbacks and detours, the novel chronicles how granddaughters Ming, Vanya, Rachel and Jess reclaim their heritage and achieve reconciliations with Pono, who terrifies them--she can metamorphose into a sea creature and live for days in the ocean--but commands their love and respect. Pono periodically goes on unexplained voyages to visit the girls' grandfather, Duke, a leper deeply ashamed of his putrefying limbs. A digression describes the history of the disease and treatment of its victims. Other sections evoke life on a 19th-century whaler, and offer a history of Hawaii's labor-union movement, the story of a drug-addicted Vietnam vet and cameo appearances of such real-life figures as Queen Lil'uokalani and F.D.R. Between wars, plagues, uprisings and earthquakes the book has a surfeit of events, but for the most part Davenport juggles the elements admirably as she moves from Hawaiian rain forests to downtown Manhattan, slipping easily from the fantastic to the actual. Breathtaking images studded throughout the densely poetic descriptive passages more than compensate for the occasional clumsy effort at stream-of-consciousness writing. Author tour. (May)
Library Journal
This expansive and engrossing multigenerational saga details the history of Hawaii through the experiences of one family. It begins in the 19th century with the dramatic meeting of a young Yankee sailor and a beautiful Tahitian princess. Their descendants, who live in contemporary Hawaii, are four cousins named Vanya, Ming, Rachel, and Jess who have been brought up by Pono, a kahuna, or seer, who has never talked about her mysterious past to her four granddaughters. Davenport deftly includes much information in the narrative--about politics, leprosy, and the racial melting pot that is Hawaiian society--with a minimum of didacticism. She incorporates folklore, history, and myth in a vivid, lush prose style that only occasionally becomes overwrought. This first novel is much better written than James Michener's Hawaii (1959) and brings Hawaiian history up to the present day. Entertaining and educational, it is an excellent purchase for public libraries of any size. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/94.-- Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr . for the Book, Seattle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452274587
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 377,768
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.95 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2003

    A Great Read!

    Wonderful, a little dreamy. I felt like I knew so much more about the island and its history even though I was reading it in New Jersey. The family relationships are great, I could relate to the story line. It was a lengthy book but, I loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2002

    A wonderful novel, I hope she has more coming!

    This is hands down the best book I have ever read. It combines history with a great story that kept me interested the whole way through! Kiana Davernport is a very creative and descriptive writer and I simply loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    I think I read this book when I was a teenager. I liked the book

    I think I read this book when I was a teenager. I liked the book because of the history the book presents as the story unfolds. Seeing it hear
    brought a smile to my face.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Momtracy

    Greatbook

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is the worst book I have ever read. The characters were ver

    This is the worst book I have ever read. The characters were very hateful towards white people and they were just unlikeable people in general. The book also contains overly descriptive sexual content--I couldn't believe some of the things said and I usually prefer that writers leave that stuff out. The book is also longer than it needs to be; it drags on and on, even though there is hardly a plot at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    one of the best books I have read!

    wonderful story full of history

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Taste of True Hawaiian History

    From its opening pages until its dramatic conclusion this novel wouldn't let me put it down until I'd finished it. The clarity with which Davenport writes unfolds the locale and the people in a way not many authors can capture. She includes three glossaries at the end so unfamiliar words can be easily understood by the reader. I highly recommend it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2007

    Love Hawaii

    This is a great fantasy/history book of Hawaii - and the negative impact outsiders had when they settled in the islands. Loved the first 3/4 of the book - the last 1/4 dragged a bit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2003

    A gripping tale

    An inspiring epic. I learned so much. It's the kind of book you can read several times and still get something new from it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2003

    Awesome, has a little bit of everything in it.

    I think this is possibly one of the best books I have ever read.I love the how the saga interweaves the generations together.It to be enjoyed like sipping a hot chocolate slowly savoring the texture and the flavor. I think it is a excelent read for anyone interested in Hawaii culture & history as well as a very intresting family saga.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2002

    Too much is not enough

    Long winded and meandering. The book could have been a third the size and have told the story adequately. It's an interesting story but it bogs down in too many places to keep an interest going.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews

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