Excerpt from Honolulu by Alan Brennert, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Honolulu

by Alan Brennert

Honolulu by Alan Brennert
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2010, 464 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


To lend credibility to the sham, I had Mr. Yun send Blossom fifty dollars in “earnest money,” which we provided.

My brother reported no trouble obtaining a passport for Blossom. I then had him apply for a visa on her behalf as the fiancée of an American-born man named Ronald Yun in Honolulu. Hundreds of women still entered the country this way, and I believed it would be only a question of how long we had to wait for the American embassy in Seoul to approve Blossom’s visa.

But though my timing had been right in approaching Father, in another respect it could not have been worse.



Koreans were not alone, it seemed, in their antipathy toward the Japanese. Apparently many on the American mainland, including prominent members of Congress, were looking at the number of Japanese immigrants in Hawai'i—and other parts of the western United States—with mounting alarm about something they called “Oriental colonization.” It was not a matter of race, they claimed, but of culture: Orientals, they said, were too alien in their values, and simply would not assimilate into American society. America’s culture and values had to be preserved against this invasion from outside its borders.

The 1920 Japanese labor action against O'ahu plantations only fueled Americans’ suspicions that the Japanese were out to undermine their economy and way of life. Immigration from China had been restricted before the turn of the century, and a so-called Gentleman’s Agreement between the United States and Japan in 1907 stopped any further immigration from the Japanese Empire, including Korea. The only exceptions to this had been for students studying abroad and for “picture brides” like myself. But now, it appeared, we had committed an unpardonable crime: We were reproducing.

Birth rates among Japanese and Koreans in the United States had soared in recent years as laborers married, settled down, and raised families. We were apparently doing it too well relative to the birth rate of Americans in general, and white Americans in particular.

I was pathetically ignorant of all this as I began excitedly preparing for Blossom’s arrival. We had purchased a two-tiered “bunk bed” for Harold and Charlie to sleep in, thus freeing up valuable floor space in our one-room apartment, in which we put the daybed that was to belong to my sister-inlaw. Even though Blossom’s arrival was still months away, I began excitedly cleaning house, making room in the closet, and clearing space for another family member.

But then, in December 1924, word came from my brother that Blossom’s visa to the United States had been denied.

At first I thought it was some sort of mistake, but a visit to the passport office here in Honolulu revealed the appalling truth.

That summer, the United States Congress had passed—and President Coolidge signed into law—the Immigration Act of 1924, or as it was sometimes called, the Oriental Exclusion Act. Against the fear of a “Japanese conspiracy,” it closed the door on any further Japanese immigration— including and especially the importation of picture brides.

It closed the door on Blossom.

The only exceptions now were temporary visas for students entering “an accredited school, college, academy, seminary, or university . . . and who shall voluntarily depart from the United States upon the completion of such course of study.” Desperately I attempted to enroll Blossom in the Korean Girls’ Seminary in Honolulu, but as she had never received a formal education of any kind in Korea, she was judged by the American Embassy not a “qualified” applicant and a student visa was also denied her.

Excerpted from Honolulu by Alan Brennert, Copyright © 2009 by Alan Brennert. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...
  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -