Club Book Episode 131 Kawai Strong Washburn
Chart-topping novelist Kawai Strong Washburn lives in Minnesota but hails proudly from the Big Island of Hawai’i. His upbringing on the magical Hāmākua Coast inspires and infuses his first fiction foray, Sharks in the Time of Saviors. It centers on the family of Nainoa “Noa” Flores, a native son blessed by the Islands’ ancient gods with unique abilities. As mysterious as they are impressive, Noa’s nascent powers cause friction within his family even as this gift allows them to consider a future beyond their current, hardscrabble lives. Publisher’s Weekly lauds: “Washburn’s standout debut provides a vivid portrait of Hawaiian identity, mythology, and diaspora… It’s a unique and spirited depiction of the 50th state and its children.” Sources as varied as The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and President Barack Obama have singled out Sharks in the Time of Saviors as one of the best reads of 2020. Washburn’s gripping family saga also won the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Award and a 2021 Minnesota Book Award.