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Kalaupapa oral history is Hawaii book of the year

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A nonfiction book that documents the lives of the mostly Native Hawaiian individuals who were sent to the leprosy settlement at Kalaupapa was named winner of the Samuel M. Kamakau Award for Hawai‘i Book of the Year at the 20th annual Ka Palapala Po‘okela book awards.

“Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory,” by Anwei Skinsnes Law with design by Julie Matsuo-Chun, used oral histories as its primary source. The book, published by the University of Hawaii Press, also tied for the Award of Excellence in the Hawaiian language, culture and history category and earned honorable mention for nonfiction.

The judges praised the volume as “a very important contribution to Hawaiian history” and recognized Law for “an exemplary job constructing an insightful narrative from these sources into a book that is beautifully realized by UH Press,” according to a news release.

Sharing the Award of Excellence for Hawaiian language, culture and history was “Ancestry of Experience: A Journey into Hawaiian Ways of Knowing,” by Leilani Holmes (UH Press).

The awards were announced by the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association Friday at a festive gathering held at the Hawaii State Library as part of the state library system’s 100th anniversary.

Chris McKinney won the literature category for his fifth book, “Boi No Good: A Novel of Family, Crime and Betrayal in a Hawai‘i of Turmoil” (Mutual Publishing). The judges noted “his book is like Oahu itself: crowded, noisy, multicultured and layered, passionate, relentless, sometimes junky, sometimes beautiful, always engaging.”

“Wipeout! & Hanging Ten in Paris: Two Surfing Detective Mysteries,” by Chip Hughes (Slate Ridge Press), received honorable mention for literature.

Well-known author and filmmaker Tom Coffman collected the top award for nonfiction for “I Respectfully Dissent,” his biography of Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Edward H. Nakamura (UH Press). The judges agreed that “in a field of worthy contenders, this book — a slim volume that belies the reams of research and dozens of interviews that were winnowed into it — stands above and apart.”

A total of 45 entries from 37 separate book projects were nominated in 10 categories. Nominated books will be displayed at the publishers association booth at the Hawaii Book & Music Festival May 18-19 at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds next to Honolulu Hale. For more on the awards, visit

The other Award of Excellence winners are:

>> Children’s literature: “A Coconut Named Bob,” by Austin Weaver, illustrated by Don Robinson (Island Heritage).

>> Design: Barbara Pope of Barbara Pope Book Design, “Engraved at Lahainaluna: A History of Printmaking by Hawaiians at the Lahainaluna Seminary, 1834 to 1844,” by David W. Forbes (Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives). Pope also received honorable mention for her design work for “Ili Na Ho‘omana‘o o Kalaupapa: Casting Remembrances of Kalaupapa,” by Anwei Skinsnes Law and Valerie Monson, with photography by Wayne Levin (Pacific Historic Parks).

>> Photographic or illustrative books: “Ili Na Ho‘omana‘o o Kalaupapa: Casting Remembrances of Kalaupapa.” Honorable mention: “Engraved at Lahainaluna.”

>> Natural science: “Loulu: The Hawaiian Palm,” by Donald R. Hodel (UH Press). Honorable mention: “In the Beginning: Archipelago, The Origin and Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands,” by Dr. Richard W. Grigg (Island Heritage).

>> Cookbooks: “A Splash of Aloha: A Healthy Guide to Fresh Hawaiian Seafood,” by Kapiolani Community College (Watermark). Honorable mention: “Little Hawaiian Liliko‘i Cookbook,” by Gail Hercher (Mutual).

>> Special interest: “The ‘Ukulele: A History,” by Jim Tranquada and John King (UH Press). Honorable mention: “Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Big Time Wrestling!,” by Edmund C. Francis with Larry Fleece (Watermark).

>> “Aloha from Across the Sea”: “The Queen and I: A Story of Dispossessions and Reconnections in Hawai‘i,” by Sydney Lehua Iaukea (University of California Press). Honorable mention: “Aloha, Mozart,” by Waimea Williams (Luminis Books).

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