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In the tradition of Gabriel García Márquez and Maxine Hong Kingston, and deeply rooted in the intricacies of the author’s Japanese-Hawaiian heritage, Calabash Stories is a lucid, unforgettable collection. Jeffrey J. Higa’s stories arise from different points in the same fertile landscape: At times, the recurrence of certain details (a beige Volkswagen bug, a famous entertainer) makes them glow with deeper meaning at others, the reemergence of potent archetypes (a sick child, an old man living alone) invokes a dreamstate held between author and reader. Like the traditional Hawaiian calabash, these stories invite their reader to a family table where we are welcomed and nourished by communal traditions. Higa is a master storyteller, delighting in life’s humor and strangeness while arriving at the intimacy and poignancy that comes from a shared understanding of grief.
I am enchanted by Calabash Stories. There is so much humor and heartbreak and humanity in these stories—not to mention so much style and gravitas. I hope Jeffrey Higa will be writing us stories for many years to come—I, for one, will be rooting for him loudly.