Category Archives: Manoa

Interview: MĀNOA Editor Frank Stewart

In late June, the team behind the MĀNOA journal won the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for its book-length special project, Curve of the Hook: An Archaeologist in Polynesia, from the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association. Curve of the Hook features the life of Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto. The full-color volume was designed by Barbara Pope Book Design and translated by Madoka Nagadō and MĀNOA editor Frank Stewart.

MĀNOA began here in the Mānoa Valley, where the University of Hawai‘i is situated, nearly 30 years ago. Dedicated to storytelling in all forms, MĀNOA frequently crosses the boundary between journal and book. Below, editor Frank Stewart details how MĀNOA began, the importance of place, and the narratives that connect us all.

You founded the journal with Robert Shapard. Can you share with us MĀNOA’s origin story?

In 1987, University of Hawai‘i President Albert Simone wanted to expand the number of journals published by the University of Hawai‘i Press. He offered five-year start-up funds to three prospective journals and invited proposals. My colleague, Robbie Shapard, and I submitted an outline for MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing. The two of us saw that there was no journal anywhere that focused on contemporary literary writing exclusively from Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas, and we felt that such a journal could best be produced at the University of Hawai‘i. Our proposal was approved, and we published the first issue of MĀNOA in fall 1989. Barbara Pope signed on as art editor. Howard Goldblatt was our first guest editor, contributing a feature on new Chinese fiction. UH Press Production typeset it, and Journals contracted the printing.

MĀNOA founding editors Frank Stewart (left) and Robert Shapard (right), 1994. Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart

MĀNOA’s subtitle is “A Pacific Journal of International Writing.” What role does place play in MĀNOA?

The subtitle is important. It makes clear that MĀNOA is published in the Pacific. Our editorial perspective is distinctive to Hawai‘i; our home is the Pacific hemisphere. In Honolulu, we are closer to Tokyo and Auckland than to New York. This means that neither Asia nor Oceania is exotic to us, and so we don’t treat writing from there as strange and mysterious. We chose to put “writing” in the subtitle rather than “literature” because we publish work that isn’t limited to what is conventionally meant by that term: we include, for example, chants, rap lyrics, oratory, graphic narratives, and film scripts. We are “international” in that we don’t view writing as confined in regional cages; we want to present writing from everywhere as belonging to the world as a whole.

Every issue of MĀNOA features visual art alongside prose and poetry. Why do you think it’s important, and how do you pair artists?

Visual art is a powerful form of narrative. Juxtaposed with writing, art quickens the imagination and intensifies both the word and image. We are concerned primarily with storytelling, and the visual art in MĀNOA tells its own narrative—rather than simply illustrating the writing—and makes its own statements about people, culture, history, and other elements in each issue.

The last decade of issues and books produced by MĀNOA.

In your field, what issues or questions are particularly relevant now? How is MĀNOA part of that conversation?

In 2017, we no longer have to persuade people that knowing individuals who are seemingly different from ourselves is good and necessary if we are going to live together ethically on the same planet. The best writing expands and deepens our sense of familiarity and kindredness. Those are the kinds of stories we want to publish—often in new translations—whether they’re from Pakistan, Mongolia, Tibet, Indonesia, or the Philippines. And we’re particularly aware that indigenous works from Hawai‘i, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, and other Pacific Islands are sorely underrepresented in English-language publishing. We want to help change that.

Is there an issue that you’re particularly proud of?

Our summer 2016 special project, Curve of the Hook: An Archaeologist in Polynesia, presents the life and work of Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto, who changed the way the world regards Polynesia and Polynesians. His story not only links people and cultures across the entire Pacific, but also shows that relationships of outsiders with island peoples need to be ethical and to respect their sacred sites, beliefs, and languages. His life story inspires us to look below the surface and over the horizon—something every project of MĀNOA attempts to do. Our winter 2016 issue, Red Peonies, presents two novellas by Zhang Yihe, a Chinese woman imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution. Now in her seventies, Zhang Yihe advocates for freedom of expression in the PRC.

Curve of the Hook received the excellence-in-nonfiction award from the HBPA on June 22. Accepting the award were Frank Stewart (left) and Akihiko Sinoto (middle), son of Dr. Sinoto. Eric Komori (right) wrote the introduction. Photo courtesy of MĀNOA.

MĀNOA recently received a $10,000 grant from the NEA. How does this help sustain MĀNOA and what can readers look forward to?

The University stopped underwriting the new journals after three years instead of five. So since 1991, MĀNOA has survived because of its staff’s efforts to attract funds from sources such as the NEA. Grants sustain us one year at a time, but after nearly thirty years, we are optimistic. We’re looking forward in the next few years to publishing powerful new work from Cambodia, Burma, Brazil, and from minority poets in China writing about the natural environment. Every issue is an adventure.


About the Journal

MĀNOA is a unique, award-winning literary journal that includes American and international fiction, poetry, artwork, and essays of current cultural or literary interest. Beautifully produced, MĀNOA presents traditional alongside contemporary writings from the entire Pacific Rim, one of the world’s most dynamic literary regions.

Purchase & Subscribe

Purchase a copy of Curve of the Hook here.

MĀNOA subscriptions for both individuals and institutions are available here.

Review: Curve of the Hook, from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (MĀNOA)

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reviewed MĀNOA Vol. 28 No. 1, Curve of the Hook in its Sunday Magazine.

Curve of the Hook is the first book-length work in English about Dr. Sinoto’s life and work. Dr. Sinoto’s research fundamentally changed the way the world views the accomplishments of ancient Polynesians, whose early voyages are considered to be among the great achievements in human history.

In the April 23 review, David A.M. Goldberg wrote:

Sinoto, who learned Tahitian and started his research from a place of respect, represents the best that science has to offer as a discipline and worldview. ‘Curve of the Hook’ is the story of a life everyone in Hawaii should know about and be inspired to emulate as we witness ongoing threats to the indigenous cultures of Polynesia.

Find the full review here at the Star-Advertiser.

Attend MĀNOA’s Curve of the Hook panel at this weekend’s Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival, Saturday, May 6 at noon. Preview the event here.

Say hello to UH Press at AAS Booth 600

If you’re attending the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Toronto March 16-19, 2017, be sure to visit the University of Hawai’i Press at booth 600!

UH Press will have Asian studies books from our latest catalogs on display, as well as copies of the following journals:

We’re also proud to debut three online-only journals at AAS 2017:

Stop by and say hello as you browse through our display copies and catalogs. You may also pick up an order form at our booth or place your orders online at www.uhpress.hawaii.edu.

We look forward to seeing you in cold, snowy Toronto!

Red Peonies: Two Novellas of China (MĀNOA 28:2)

From this issue: Duplication, Image 5 , 2003 by Xing Danwen.

Red Peonies is the first English translation of The Woman Liu and The Woman Yang—two novellas by Chinese writer Zhang Yihe.

In 1970, when she was 28, Zhang was convicted of being a counter-revolutionary and sentenced to two decades in a remote prison labor camp. With empathy and grace, Zhang tells the stories of Liu Yueying and Yang Fenfang, two women she met at the camp.

Of her novellas, Zhang says, “They are not about politics or the system but about the tragic destinies of these young female prisoners.” Continue reading

Visit UH Press and MĀNOA at AWP Booth 791

MANOA editor Frank Stewart

MANOA editor and UH Manoa faculty member Frank Stewart

Stop by and say aloha to editors of MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing and peruse University of Hawai`i Press publications at February’s Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Washington, DC.

Editors at booth 791 will have MĀNOA‘s latest issues, UH Press books and journals, and information on the University of Hawai`i English Department creative writing program. The book fair opens on the morning of Thursday, February 9 and closes the afternoon of Saturday, February 11.

Click here to read AWP Book Fair Frequently Asked Questions.

Assistant editor of MANOA and UH Manoa grad Noah Perales-Estoesta

Assistant editor of MANOA and UH Manoa grad Noah Perales-Estoesta

Review of Story is a Vagabond (MĀNOA 27:1)

Manoa 27:1 Story is A Vagabond, Intizar HusainAsymptote Journal features a compelling review of Story is a Vagabond: Fiction, Essays and Drama by Intizar Husain, published by MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing (27:1, 2015) and UH Press.

One of Pakistan’s most distinguished writers, Intizar Husain was born in India in 1923 and immigrated to Pakistan during the Partition. An internationally acclaimed writer, critic, and translator, he has published seven volumes of short stories, four novels, and a novella, as well as travelogues, memoirs, and critical essays. Despite his importance to world literature for over six decades, Husain’s writing is little known in English translation. Story is a Vagabond is the first collection in English to show the breadth of his thoughtful, innovative, and compassionate work.

Reviewer Aamer Hussein writes that the editors of this special issue managed “a level of translucence through which Husain’s distinctive intonations echo and resound.” Read the review online here.

Order your copy of Story is a Vagabond from UH Press.

Browse content online via Project MUSE.

Subscribe to MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing

Curve of the Hook: An Archaeologist in Polynesia (MANOA 28-1)

This issue of MĀNOA (28-1), Curve of the Hook: An Archaeologist in Polynesia is a booklength interview with Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto, known for the astonishing archaeological discoveries that changed our ideas of the ancient Polynesians, their ways of life, and their legendary voyages across the Pacific. Dr. Sinoto’s discoveries included whale-tooth pendants, stone tools and weapons, sacred structures, dwellings, an ancient voyaging canoe, and finely made fishhooks that allowed him and his fellow archaeologists to chart the seafaring routes of early Polynesians.

Now, in Curve of the Hook, we can experience the extraordinary adventures and career of an eminent and celebrated archaeologist in Polynesia. This full-color book includes over 100 illustrations—including unpublished photos from Dr. Sinoto’s private collection—plus notes and a list of references.

Continue reading