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
The pidgin Inferno
The pidgin Inferno is my retelling of the Inferno from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. It is a humorous romp through Hell, using local history and personages both famous and infamous. The best part is that it is told entirely in the people's tongue, pidgin.
Eh, you know da'kine Inferno book from the guy, Dante? I get my own version call The pidgin Inferno. Funny kine and unreals, brah, you should try read 'em. Get anykine famous peoples even some kanaks, plenty good stuffs. Also, stay in pidgin so easy for get 'em.
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Why you still reading this? Pound the button, brah.
Jeffrey J. Higa is the author of Calabash Stories, which won the Robert C. Jones Prize, and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. “The Shadow Artist,” a short story from the collection, was a recent finalist for the Italo Calvino Prize and received an honorable mention in the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize from the North American Review. In Hawaii, he is best known for “Christmas Stories” which was serialized and broadcast by Aloha Shorts on Hawaii Public Radio in 2009 and 2010. He has published widely in literary and commercial magazines, including Zyzzyva, Sonora Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Willow Springs, Bamboo Ridge, Salt Hill, LitQuarterly, Honolulu Review of Books, Honolulu Magazine, Business Today, Poets & Writers and others. He was the recipient of the Kundiman fiction fellowship at the Sewanee Writers Conference. In addition, his full-length play Futless won the Hawai’i Prize from the Kumu Kahua Theatre. He earned his B.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, spent some time at the M.F.A. program in fiction at Arizona State University, and earned a M.A. in creative writing from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He lives in Honolulu with the biologist Marguerite Butler, the actor Raine Higa, and the good dog Tim Tam.
His next book, The pidgin Inferno, is a complete 34-canto retelling of Dante Alighieri's Inferno. It is a humorous romp through Hell, substituting Dante’s Renaissance Tuscany with Hawaiian history, locations, and personages both famous and infamous. Like Dante, Jeffrey has written it in the lingua franca of his people, pidgin.