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House of Many Gods: A Novel by
Lush Is The Word
From Kiana Davenport, the bestselling author of Song of the Exile and
Shark Dialogues, comes another mesmerizing novel about her people and
her islands. Told in spellbinding and mythic prose, House of Many Gods is
a deeply complex and provocative love story set against the background of
Hawaii and Russia. Interwoven throughout with the indelible portrait of a
native Hawaiian family struggling against poverty, drug wars, and the
increasing military occupation of their sacred lands.
Progressing from the 1960s to the turbulent present, the novel begins on
the island of O’ahu and centers on Ana, abandoned by her mother as a
child. Raised by her extended family on the “lawless” Wai’anae coast, west
of Honolulu, Ana, against all odds, becomes a physician. While tending
victims of Hurricane ‘Iniki on the neighboring island of Kaua’i, she meets
Nikolai, a Russian filmmaker with a violent and tragic past, who can
confront reality only through his unique prism of lies. Yet he is dedicated to
recording the ecological horrors in his motherland and across the Pacific.
As their lives slowly and inextricably intertwine, Ana and Nikolai’s story
becomes an odyssey that spans decades and sweeps the reader from
rural Hawaii to the forbidding Arctic wastes of Russia; from the poverty-
stricken Wai’anae coast to the glittering harshness of “new Moscow” and
the haunting, faded beauty of St. Petersburg. With stunning narrative
inventiveness, Davenport has created a timeless epic of loss and
remembrance, of the search for family and identity, and, ultimately, of the
redemptive power of love.
From the Hardcover edition.
Personal Review: House of Many Gods: A Novel by Kiana
I've becoming quite a fan of Kiana Davenport. Her themes are always
about her native Hawaii. Her characters are symbolic as well as real. And
her stories never fail to keep me up well past my bedtime. I read her latest
book in a couple of days and just couldn't put it down. This was in spite of
the fact that I generally knew what was coming. In fact, I welcomed it.
Because, in the end, I knew there would be a happy resolution. And there
This is the story of a Ana, young native Hawaiian girl born in the 1960s.
She's being raised by her extended family because her mother has
deserted her. It's a house full of aunties and uncles and cousins who eke
out a sparse living in rural Oahu, about a two-hour bus ride from the busy
and bustling Honolulu. This is Ana's story, but it is also the story an
unpleasant chapter in Hawaii's history, that of nuclear testing on its
beaches, with the resultant illnesses of the people and devastation of the
Against all odds, Ana grows up to be a doctor. She is not a happy person
though. She has been shaped by the loss of her mother and is always
angry. Even when she becomes ill, and her mother returns, she continues
living behind emotional defenses.
But there is another character in this story. And, unlike Ms. Davenport's
previous books, this character is not a native Hawaiian. He comes from
far-away Russia and has experienced anguishes that make Ana's story
pale by comparison. When Stalin came to power, this man's father was
sent to a labor camp in the frozen north. His mother followed him, living in
a house of ice with other women whose husbands were in the camp.
During a secret visit to his father, Nicolai was conceived and the hardships
he endured as a baby made me wince in horror. Later, he becomes a
street urchin, starving and abused. However, he somehow manages to
become a documentary film maker. And he specializes in filming the awful
results of his country's nuclear testing.
Yes, he comes to Hawaii. He meets Ana. But this is not a simple love
story. There are twists and turns and the reader is forced to view the
unsafe world created by the Cold War and the march of progress.
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I am fascinated by books about
the Hawaiian people. And I am equally fascinated by books about the
frozen north. Put these both together in a fast-paced story which also has
a message, and I'm hooked.
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