Jeffrey Higa’s Calabash Stories is not only a delight to read, it is a fond remembrance of local culture and society that fostered us as we grew, with avidity or reluctance, into the globalized and metropolitan identities of postmodern times. To read this wonderful book is like gathering with elders at a family reunion, hearing their recollections as they confirm our common affections, calling up the items and events of former times, sharing anecdotal treasures and secrets we realize, just in their telling, are our true legacy. Higa’s writing flows beautifully from precise descriptions of Honolulu’s working class neighborhoods and its characters, through narratives both raucous and tender of childhood and receiving lessons from elders, to the spark of dialogues in pidgin, our common vernacular. The stories are loving, tributary, and priceless.
author of Coral Road
Plays and Performances
A Christmas story in Hawaii and one of the most popular stories in the collection. It was originally performed as a radio play by Aloha Shorts [defunct] on Hawaii Public Radio. It aired in two parts in December 2009 and was rebroadcast again in December 2010.
Winner of the 2003 Hawai'i Prize (full length) Play Contest by Kumu Kahua Theatre/University of Hawaii. A public table reading was presented at Kumu Kahua Theatre in April 2005.
Jeffrey J. Higa is the great-grandson of Okinawan and Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii at the turn of the 20th century to work on the sugar plantations. From them, he inherited their love of their adopted land and the stories that sustained them. He left Hawaii soon after high school to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree. However, it was his experience living above a used bookstore in downtown Troy, where paperbacks could be bought for a quarter, that launched his interest in writing. During his graduate education, Jeffrey taught, wrote, and worked with indigenous youth to tell their stories as he wandered through several writing programs until finally finding a home at the University of Missouri–St. Louis where he finished with a M.A. in creative writing. Since then, his play Futless won the Hawai’i Prize from the Kumu Kahua Theatre and “Christmas Stories” was serialized and broadcast by Aloha Shorts on Hawaii Public Radio. His story “The Shadow Artist” received an honorable mention in the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize from the North American Review. He currently lives in Honolulu with his wife, the biologist Marguerite Butler, his daughter, the poet and actor Raine Higa, and their good dog Tim Tam. Calabash Stories is his first short story collection.
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