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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 21, 2002

'American Fuji' hits home

 •  Beyond 'Fuji' – author's insights about her novel
 •  Caught between cultures: Comments on 'American Fuji'

By Wanda Adams
Advertiser Books Editor

Mount Fuji is Japan's highest mountain. The 12,389-foot peak is one of the country's most enduring images.

Associated Press library photo

Ladies and gentleman, if everyone will take their seats, please? The first "meeting" of The Honolulu Advertiser Book Club will now come to order.

We have a great deal to accomplish: discussion of "American Fuji," announcement of the next selection and an exciting addition to the book club — a radio program based on the book club, produced cooperatively with Hawai'i Public Radio.

We're delighted to report that this first outing together, reading Sara Backer's "American Fuji," was a success by all measures: Many bookstores sold out of the book and had to re-order. The libraries' copies were reserved and reserved again. And we heard from more than 75 readers who took the time to comment on the book, or to suggest other books for us to read together in the future.

This confirmed our suspicion that there were a number of closet bookworms out there who had always wanted to join a book club but couldn't find the time to attend a meeting. What we hadn't anticipated was how many people who "join" from afar via the Internet; we heard from a lot of former Islanders and would-be Islanders who read The Advertiser online each day and decided to read along.

"American Fuji," about expatriate Americans living in Japan, provoked some interesting thought and discussion — including comparisons with the experiences of newcomers here in Hawai'i. Today we share a representative selection of these comments, as well as writer Sara Backer's responses to readers' questions.

Also today, we're announcing our next book to enjoy together. It is "Makai" by Kathleen Tyau (Bluestreak/Beacon Press, paper, $15).

Next week in the Island Life section, look for an interview with the Hawai'i-born Tyau, who now lives near Portland, Ore. The reading period is today through Sept. 6.

On or before Sept. 6, mail, fax or e-mail your comments on "Makai" to Wanda Adams, Advertiser books editor. We'll report back with your comments and questions Sept. 15, both in print and online. We have alerted the bookstores and libraries, so we hope there will be no difficulties getting the book.

With Tyau's book, we are adding yet another layer to the book club. Partnering with Hawai'i Public Radio, we'll present the "Sandwich Islands Literary Circle," a radio program that will air in the 9-9:30 p.m. slot on KIPO, 89.3 FM, on Sundays. It kicks off July 28 with an interview of Tyau.

The July 28 radio program will supplement our Advertiser profile of Tyau and offer additional material, focusing on the craft of writing. It will also offer a chance to hear Tyau reading her own work. Segments of her reading will be available at our Web site, too, after July 28.

Want to get involved?

Once again, here's how to get involved:

  • Membership: There is no formal membership; just read the book and participate in the virtual discussion by sending in your comments and questions.
  • Next book: "Makai" by Kathleen Tyau (Bluestreak imprint of Beacon Press, paper, $15).
  • Reading period: Today through Sept. 6.
  • Next "discussion": Sept. 15.
  • To participate in the discussion: Write Wanda Adams, Books Editor, Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Fax: 525-8055. E-mail: wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.
  • Listen: To the "Sandwich Islands Literary Circle" at 9 p.m. July 28, KIPO 89.3 FM.
  • If you have trouble finding the book: Please call Wanda Adams, 535-2412. We want to keep tabs on supply.
  • To experience the book club online: visit http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/current/il/bookclub.