Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel

Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel

by Kawai Strong Washburn

Hardcover(New Edition)

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Barnes & Noble Discover pick for March 2020

Amazon Editors’ Pick for March 2020

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn.

“Old myths clash with new realities, love is in a ride or die with grief, faith rubs hard against magic, and comic flips with tragic so much they meld into something new. All told with daredevil lyricism to burn. A ferocious debut.”

—MARLON JAMES, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf

So good it hurts and hurts to where it heals. It is revelatory and unputdownable. Washburn is an extraordinarily brilliant new talent.”

—TOMMY ORANGE, author of There There

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods—a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i—with tragic consequences—they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374272081
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 03/03/2020
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 6,093
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Kawai Strong Washburn was born and raised on the Hamakua coast of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. His work has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney’s, and Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, among other outlets. He was a 2015 Tin House Summer Scholar and 2015 Bread Loaf work-study scholar. Today, he lives with his wife and daughters in Minneapolis. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is his first novel.

Customer Reviews

Sharks in the Time of Saviors 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 27 days ago
Sharks in the Time of Saviours is the first novel by Hawaiian-born author, Kawai Strong Washburn. Conceived on a night when the gods roam the Big Island, Nainao Flores is different from the start, and it eventually becomes more apparent how special he is. Gifted (or plagued) with premonitory visions, saved by sharks, able to heal, a boy so singular is bound to be treated differently. So young, yet believing himself charged with the salvation of the islands. But this (perhaps) messiah is not an only child. Nor do his parents know quite how to nurture the gift. From them comes favour and protection and support; from his siblings, in addition to the usual love and rivalry, there’s also jealousy and resentment. And from the island dwellers, the entreaties (or sometimes, demands) to heal. And none of it alters the fact that there’s no living to be made in the islands. Dean heads to Spokane on a basketball scholarship to make it big; Nainoa finds himself a paramedic in Portland, using his gift to save the dying, while Kaui determines to quash her invisibility by becoming an engineer. But away from home, nothing goes completely right for any of them… What a powerful, moving tale Washburn gives the reader! His characters are complex and believable, with flaws and redeeming qualities both. Washburn has a talent for conveying feelings and emotions, of which his characters exhibit anxiety, grief, love, wonder, envy, heartbreak and much more besides. Sometimes they are deeply spiritual, at other times, forced to be practical, but ultimately the connection to the land and to all life forms, to the past and the present overrides all. There are touches of the paranormal, of magical realism in this outstanding debut novel. Washburn is an author to watch This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Better Reading Preview and Penguin Hamish Hamilton
K Carlucci 9 days ago
Although I read a book every day or two, I'm not inclined to offer a review... until now. Mahalo nui e Kawai for your insightful, true-to-life portrayal of a modern family of Hawai'i and for caring enough about the authenticity of its culture and proper use of its language (yes, the 'okina and kahako markings do matter!). This powerful story grabbed my attention and kept hold on my heart like the steady beat of a pahu until the end. Told through the distinctive voices of each family member (Malia, Nainoa, Dean and Kaui then finally Augie), the story unfolds as a saga but also a tribute to the full beauty of the islands. The writing is strong and replete with imagery of life in all its gore and glory, while dancing with spirituality and philosophy. As a malihini who spent half my life on Maui immersed in its cultural blend of languages and love of the land, I'm grateful to the author for bringing me back home in such an entertaining way. Note to Kawai, though: Brah, a 6'5" part Filipino named Dean? Got me thinking... huh? No matter... this book is an important addition to the current conversation about indigenous voices and authentic representation of cultures in our time.