Offspring of a young Japanese woman and a spaced-out American hippie briefly entranced with Japan, Hiro Tanaka grows up scorned as a half-breed in his racially pure homeland. So when he nears America aboard the sailing vessel on which he serves as cook's assistant, Hiro literally jumps ship. He's sure that in America a man of mixed race can easily fit in, but he's in for a big surprise. Landing on Tupelo Island near Georgia, he inadvertently frightens a number of witless residents and thus finds himself a hunted man. He is briefly protected by Ruth Dershowitz, a resident at a writers' colony on the island, but her motives are mixed: she's mostly interested in Hiro as an experience that will enhance her writing and highly developed sense of self. Indeed, virtually everyone in this picaresque novel acts primarily from self-interest; even our Hiro comes across as something of an anti-hero, self-pitying if vulnerable. Boyle's lucid prose charges ahead wrecklessly, sweeping readers along as it effortlessly blends the story of Hiro's plight with that of the writers' colony. But Boyle's unrelieved indictment of prejudice at times seems one-dimensional, his characters so bigoted, foolish, or otherwise unengaging that we are left longing for some sign of human dignity. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/90.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''