Wild Meat and the Bully Burgersby Lois-Ann Yamanaka
In her exuberant first novel, Lois-Ann Yamanaka tells the story of young Lovey Nariyoshi in Hilo, Hawai'i, on the big island of Hawai'i. Lovey's best friend is effeminate and endearing; her father at once loving and brutal; and her entire family is caught in a cultural gap between East and West. Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers embraces an array of familial issues as… See more details below
In her exuberant first novel, Lois-Ann Yamanaka tells the story of young Lovey Nariyoshi in Hilo, Hawai'i, on the big island of Hawai'i. Lovey's best friend is effeminate and endearing; her father at once loving and brutal; and her entire family is caught in a cultural gap between East and West. Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers embraces an array of familial issues as Lovey forges an identity of her own in a world where Japanese-Americans find no facsimile of themselves in pop culture or media, no trace of their inner lives in the stories they read, and where the unpalatable is served on a plate of uncertainty. At once a bitingly funny satire of "white" happiness and a moving meditation on what is real, ugly at times, but true, Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers crackles with the language of pidgin - Hawaiian Creole - distinguishing one of the most vibrant new voices in contemporary culture.
Lovey Nariyoshi is the descendant of Japanese agricultural workers who emigrated to Hawaii two generations earlier to work in the sugar cane plantations. Her dominant emotion is shame, which Yamanaka unearths in great detail. Even the very language Lovey speaks at home -- a pidgin English dialect that is the lingua franca of agricultural migrants and workers in the Pacific Islands -- is belittled by her teachers. Lovey experiences this contempt of her language as contempt for her. Because the novel is written in this dialect, the narrative itself becomes an act of defiance and liberation.
Lovey is also ashamed of her family's second-hand, make-do existence, which the other children ridicule. "Next Daddy going tell us eat dirt for dinner because good for our body and you going believe him," Lovey complains to her sister. "He take us to the dump and tell us thass treasures and you believe. Not me. I ain't being dumb no mo."
In vivid and often violent vignettes, Ms. Yamanaka describes Lovey's defeats and triumphs as she learns to celebrate her origins and her individuality. Yamanaka has created memorable characters who inspire Lovey: her open-hearted, coarse, and vulnerable father Hubert; her best friend Jerry; and angelic, tragic Crystal, Lovey's tutor whom she idolizes. This exotic coming-of-age novel culminates on a moving note of reconciliation. -- Salon
"Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers has power and charm. A bold and skillful combination of languages . . . [it] belongs on the shelf near Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye."Literary Supplement Quarterly
"Yamanaka's voice is clear and distinct, capturing the people and events in sensitive and exciting language. . . . An important and memorable debut."San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
"Yamanaka, true to her poet's ear, communicates the luminous dignity of the language [pidgin]. . . . Because of Yamanaka's uncompromising skill at evoking the special flavor of Hawaiian life, Lovey, Jerry, Huberteven no-good Larryare some of the most vivid characters to spring off a page in recent memory."Time Out New York
"Funky and vibrant . . . A coming-of-age tale of exceeding charm."Elle
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
- Product dimensions:
- 5.83(w) x 6.95(h) x 1.00(d)
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