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House of Many Gods Paperback – 26 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (26 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345481518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345481511
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,587,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

KIANA DAVENPORT is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother, Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing. On her mother's side, Kiana traces her ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Islands who arrived almost two thousand years ago from Tahiti and the Tuamotu's. On her father's side, she traces her ancestry to John Davenport, the puritan clergyman who co-founded the American colony of New Haven, Connecticut in 1638.

Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, SHARK DIALOGUES, SONG OF THE EXILE, HOUSE OF MANY GODS, THE SPY LOVER, and most recently, THE SOUL AJAR, now available in paperback and on Kindle. She is also the author of the collections, HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES, CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES Volume II, and OPIUM DREAMS, PACIFIC STORIES, VOLUME III. All three collections have been Kindle bestsellers. She has also been a guest blogger on Huffington Post.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii, Kiana has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her short stories have won numerous O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and the Best American Short Story Award, 2000. Her novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in Hawaii and New York City.

www.kianadavenport.com
www.kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com

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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Jun. 2006
Format: Hardcover
With her lush descriptions of the topography and the almost operatic rhythm of her language, Kiana Davenport establishes the setting of her newest novel--a "wild place, the untutored place, where the Grand Tutu of the coast, the rugged Wai'anae Mountains, watched over the generations," the last holdout of pure-blood Hawaiians on Oahu. Opening in 1964, the novel focuses on Ana Kapakahi, a young girl from the poor coastal village Nanakuli, who is being raised by her extended family, her mother having departed for the mainland and a better life. Many of the elders in her family and neighborhood adhere to the old spiritual and cultural traditions, and they resent the fact that much of the land in these mountains has been seized by the US military, ending the Hawaiians' traditional use of the land and despoiling their sacred burial places and shrines.

Davenport traces the life of the resilient Ana, from 1964 to the present, as she progresses through school, college, and medical school, a journey of immense hardship and stress, contrasting Ana's life with that of her mother, Anahola (also called Ana), who is living comfortably on the mainland. She also introduces a surprising new plot element by comparing and contrasting Ana's life with that of Nikolai Volenko, a young Russian in Moscow. The two come together as adults when Hurricane Iniki destroys the Hawaiian island of Kauai and Ana, as a physician, offers medical aid. Niki, a videographer on a one-year fellowship to the US, arrives to record the events for a documentary.

Though the author might have used her plot to set up simple love stories in which the cultural differences among various lovers complicate their lives, Davenport goes much further than this, thematically, providing several points of focus.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I met this author at first through 'The Spy Lover' so was curious about her work. This is a great story of a woman's life, dwelling a lot on themes the author is obviously fascinated by: roots and the potential alienation of those who leave them behind, and the traditional beliefs of Hawaii.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
"Silence is how we preserve that which is most sacred." 28 Jan. 2006
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
With her lush descriptions of the topography and the almost operatic rhythm of her language, Kiana Davenport establishes the setting of her newest novel--a "wild place, the untutored place, where the Grand Tutu of the coast, the rugged Wai'anae Mountains, watched over the generations," the last holdout of pure-blood Hawaiians on Oahu. Opening in 1964, the novel focuses on Ana Kapakahi, a young girl from the poor coastal village Nanakuli, who is being raised by her extended family, her mother having departed for the mainland and a better life. Many of the elders in her family and neighborhood adhere to the old spiritual and cultural traditions, and they resent the fact that much of the land in these mountains has been seized by the US military, ending the Hawaiians' traditional use of the land and despoiling their sacred burial places and shrines.

Davenport traces the life of the resilient Ana, from 1964 to the present, as she progresses through school, college, and medical school, a journey of immense hardship and stress, contrasting Ana's life with that of her mother, Anahola (also called Ana), who is living comfortably on the mainland. She also introduces a surprising new plot element by comparing and contrasting Ana's life with that of Nikolai Volenko, a young Russian in Moscow. The two come together as adults when Hurricane Iniki destroys the Hawaiian island of Kauai and Ana, as a physician, offers medical aid. Niki, a videographer on a one-year fellowship to the US, arrives to record the events for a documentary.

Though the author might have used her plot to set up simple love stories in which the cultural differences among various lovers complicate their lives, Davenport goes much further than this, thematically, providing several points of focus. The three love stories are all complicated by the effects of the polluted environments in which the characters have lived, and the author minces no words in assigning blame for this pollution. At the same time, she emphasizes the spiritual values which can sustain believers, adding color and depth to her story by including unique Hawaiian rituals, legends, and descriptions of sacred places.

Using the personal story of Ana and her mother to provide the emotional base of the novel, Davenport is largely successful combining these seemingly disparate ideas, ultimately producing a moving family saga, a series of love stories, a number of domestic tragedies, an environmental novel, a political commentary, and a spiritual coming-of-age. As the action moves back and forth among the themes and plot lines, the novel draws in the reader, as mesmerizing as a hula. n Mary Whipple
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A story of love and family and the unsafe world created by the march of progress 22 April 2006
By Linda Linguvic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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 was.

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 environment.

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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Lush is the word 19 April 2006
By Blancherose - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If a book can be described in a single word, lush would be the one for Davenport's novel, House of Many Gods. Her stunning gift for description of place is evident not only in the passion she infuses into writing about her green Hawaii, where the part-Hawaiian author lives, but also to the passages putting us into the faded glory of St. Petersburg and the madness of modern Moscow. She takes us from "ancient serrated valleys, green velvet cliffs, then, tiny hidden beaches like opals" to "a room that could be crossed in eleven steps, life lived on an intimate scale" while outside are "the spires of St. Basil's cathedral, like giant swirling Dairy Queens." With Davenport, you are there.

For those not familiar with Hawaiian history, Davenport weaves in just enough background without slowing down the complex plot-and it is a big one, spanning generations, military presence, and several love stories in language that reaches poetry at times.

Although there are several stories interwoven here, the complicated relationship between Ana, the main character, and her mother, Anahola, a single mother who left her child by choice with family and moved to San Francisco, is particularly compelling-and authentic. Davenport is a marvelous storyteller. --Lorraine Dusky
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Noke, Kiana, Noke! 8 April 2006
By A Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read both of Kiana Davenport's other books, I eagerly awaited the release of this book and immediately pre-ordered it when the option was available.

When the book came, I looked at the cover and then at the premise of the story. I knew that this one was going to strike home a little bit more than the others (being set on the Wai'anae Coast...just down the hill and down the freeway in my childhood memories), so I let it sit on my shelf for a month before I read it.

What do I love about this book? Like the others, it brings to my rememberance the awesome history that all Hawaiian people share. Kiana is brilliant at weaving her fictional characters within the context of Hawai'i's history and always with an unflinching view toward the rape and damage that our people and our islands have experienced from the beginning. Most importantly, it brings it to the attention of people who only see a vacationing spot in June with smiling hula girls and help staff, mahalini (newcomers) who set up residence on the island for some years and believe that this gives them the right to be called kama'aina (technically Native Hawaiian, though some will say this may also mean "long-time resident"), and those who are just plain curious about these islands whose existance holds its people captive our whole lifelong - even when we move far away to escape its hold on us.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Great story, but a little "iffy" on Hawaiian history. 18 Mar. 2006
By Puamohala - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a faithful reader of Ms. Davenport's other books, which I have enjoyed thoroughly - I ran right out and purchased this new book of hers. I might make clear that I live full-time on the island of Kaua'i and have for many years.

I expected the theme of locals living in a beautiful, but economically depressed area, being taken advantage of by the military or large corporations. These were themes in all of her earlier books. I do not doubt the situation of Makua Valley at all - I too have heard stories of the desecration of this sacred valley by the U.S. Government and seen it

first-hand.

However, the one big criticism that I have of this book - is that Ms. Davenport gets so wrapped up in telling her tale of military destruction that she forgets her Hawaiian history.

In the book Ms. Davenport refers to Kaua'i as "The Flower Isle" -- I have never heard it referred to as that, but as the "Garden Isle" - okay, small criticism. Hurricane Iniki, which blew into Kaua'i 13 years ago - she turns into something akin to the Asian Tsunami of last year with many, many deaths! Yes, we suffered terrible damage to our homes, roads, etc. But there were 2 deaths - not the images of bodies being found and looting going on as in her book.

The biggest gaffe in the book (in my opinion) was that she referred to our last Queen Liliu'okalani as the "cousin" of King David Kalakaua! He was in fact, her brother - a very easy fact and one that every schoolchild here learns early on.

I did enjoy this book - her strong, damaged women always pull me in and except for the above mentioned problems - that could have been so easily fixed.
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