Books: Black and Blue Hawaii

In Lois-Ann Yamanaka's island stories, there are no sunny beaches, just a bruising emotional landscape

Lois-Ann Yamanaka has set all four of her novels in Hawaii, yet none are likely to be promoted by the local tourist bureau. In her latest work particularly, the haunting yet hopeful Father of the Four Passages (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 233 pages; $23), the author seems impervious to her state's natural splendor, focusing instead on the blighted emotional landscape of her characters. Chief among them is Sonia Kurisu, the youngest daughter of a Japanese-American family living in Hilo. After a fraught childhood, Sonia stumbles through addictions to drugs and the men who provide them and undergoes three abortions before giving...

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