Sharks in the Time of Saviors Summary and Reviews

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

by Kawai Strong Washburn

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn X
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
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Book Summary

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawai'ian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn.

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa's family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods―a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family's legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai'i―with tragic consequences―they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"By turns lyrical and gritty...Striking style, memorable characters, and a believably miraculous premise add up to a beautifully crafted first novel." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Though perhaps overlong, Washburn's debut is a unique and spirited depiction of the 50th state and its children." - Publishers Weekly

"A more than noteworthy first foray into contemporary fiction by Hawaiian native Washburn." - Library Journal

"Sharks in the Time of Saviors is the novel you never knew you were waiting for. Old myths clash with new realities, love is in a ride or die with grief, faith rubs hard against magic, and comic flips with tragic so much they meld into something new. All told with daredevil lyricism to burn. A ferocious debut." - Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf

"Sharks in the Time of Saviors bursts with life. It is bright and beautifully noisy. It's so good it hurts and hurts to where it heals. It is revelatory and unputdownable. Washburn is an extraordinarily brilliant new talent. This family saga is shark tooth sharp. Its pages shoot off crackles and sparks, and you come out of it changed. It is sublime." - Tommy Orange, author of There There

"Sharks in the Time of Saviours is a brilliant novel and one of the most engaging and memorable books I've read this year. Sentences sparkle, the narrative voices remain distinctive and complete, and the deep notes of magic sound under the realism of poverty and loss. I didn't want it to end." - Sarah Moss, author of Ghost Wall

This information about Sharks in the Time of Saviors shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Reader Reviews

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llani

Mythology and family tussles
Enter magical realism. Combine the mythology of the gods and their importance in the land of Hawaii. Produce a family that grapples about upholding their bonds to one another while escaping them and the land for freedom of a different sort. Bake for 376 pages. Serve to find the glue that binds the land and family making them healthier together than apart. The story begins when Noa falls overboard from a boat into a circle of sharks who save him and give him back to his parents whole and intact. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, from the mother, father and 3 children. Each grapples with their identity throughout the years, trying to understand themselves and the Hawaiian land that tugs at their soul. The book felt slow to me in the beginning and picked up pace midway. There is a lot of Hawaiian words that are not translated, leaving the reader to discern their meaning. I would give this 3.5 stars because I did enjoy it but the way the magic realism was characterized overwhelmed it for me.

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Author Information

Kawai Strong Washburn

Kawai Strong Washburn was born and raised on the Hamakua coast of the Big Island of Hawai'i. His work has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney's, and Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, among other outlets. He was a 2015 Tin House Summer Scholar and 2015 Bread Loaf work-study scholar. Today, he lives with his wife and daughters in Minneapolis. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is his first novel.

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