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Bird of Another Heaven
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About the Author

James D. Houston is the author of seven novels, including Continental Drift, Love Life, The Last Paradise--honored with a 1999 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation--and Snow Mountain Passage. His non-fiction works include Californians and Farewell to Manzanar, which he coauthored with his wife, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, he has received the Humanities Prize, an NEA writing grant, and a Rockefeller Foundation residency. He lives in Santa Cruz, CA.

Reviews

After his fictional treatment of the Donner Party (Snow Mountain Passage), Houston's superb ninth novel details the life of Sheridan "Dan" Brody, a young Northern California radio host intent on discovering the origins of his shrouded family heritage. Dan's curiosity is sparked after seeing, for the first time, his birth certificate, which lists the name of a father he never knew. Not long after, Rosa Wadell calls Dan's radio show and reveals herself to be the grandmother he never knew about. Through Rosa's stories and her mother's diaries, a clearer picture of Dan's family history emerges. Houston interweaves Dan's life in mid-1980s San Francisco with the Hawaiian tribal legacy of his great-grandmother, Nani Keala ("Nancy Callahan"), a pioneer who learned the Hawaiian ways of life and took her place at the side of Hawaii's last king, David Kalakaua. The two story lines converge as Dan learns of and begins to hunt for a secret audio recording made at San Francisco's Palace Hotel during King Kalakaua's final days. Though it gets off to a slow start, Houston builds momentum as the novel's scope widens, and the historical detail is mesmerizing. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

After opening with the death of the last king of Hawaii, this well-crafted and thoughtful work of historical fiction weaves its way back to the first scene, with the narratives of various characters-especially Nani Keala and her great grandson, Sheridan Brody-moving through time. As the book unfolds, the history of a dying monarchy is juxtaposed to events in Nani's life, and as her great grandson learns about the past, we see both its effects on him and the very real consequences for U.S. power over Hawaii. Although the dialog is sometimes strained, and character reactions often play to the overdramatic rather than the subtle, these are minor irritants in a strong and compelling read that fills a gap in the historical fiction of Hawaii. From the author of Continental Drift; recommended for public and academic library collections.-Shalini Miskelly, Highline Community Coll. Lib., Des Moines, WA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Fascinating. . . . Houston has given us the story of a lifetime." --The Washington Post Book World"Poignant. . . . [Houston's subjects] have never been written about with more insight." --The Oregonian"[Bird of Another Heaven], filled with real historical figures, richly reconceives the demise of the Hawaiian monarchy." --Entertainment Weekly"Sweeping....a panoramic saga that spans two centuries." --Sacramento Bee

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