If You Live in a Small House

If You Live in a Small House

by Sandra Park

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The “small house” in Sandra Park’s novella about 1950s Kailua is sometimes white, sometimes orange, sometimes green; it has a pink driveway and a mock orange hedge.

It is inhabited by a multi-generational Korean-American family: Father, a World War II veteran who dreams of wartime romance; Mother; Mother’s brothers Fatso and Shorty, who moved in temporarily and ended up staying; her unmarried sister Gloria, who invents a life with Dante the refuse worker and keeps her most precious objects tucked in a cedar chest; thin and quiet son Ezra; daughters Liz, Lana, and Lucy; Grandmother and Grandfather; and others.

The tenor of the story is one of war fatigue bearing down on a desire to think positively, to walk on the sunny side of the street, to be a good American. Hawai‘i’s soldiers fought against an enemy who physically resembled themselves—Chinese, Japanese, Koreans. The story is a miniature—house, island, world. In spite of public messages of optimism, this Korean-American family is sagging under the weight of daily necessity, missing the coattails of the American Dream.

Park also adeptly captures Hawai‘i in the 1950s, creating a snapshot of a Korean immigrant family full of captivating characters who find themselves suspended, not only between two wars and changing ideals, but between two times—pre- and post-Statehood.

In this lush, evocative novella, dreams, ghosts, and memories are as present in the house as real people. The story is supplemented by archival photographs, a reader’s guide, reference information about 1950s Hawai‘i, and an interview with the author.

Both older and younger readers will be able to relate to the story, as will fans of literary fiction—everyone who has felt the tug and languor of these islands, and everyone who understands that sometimes, we feel the most isolated when we live close to those we love.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013296152
Publisher: Mutual Publishing Company
Publication date: 11/24/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 200
File size: 287 KB

About the Author

Sandra Park’s fiction and poetry have appeared in the St. Petersburg Review, The Iowa Review, New American Writing, Five Fingers Review and in two anthologies, Honolulu Stories and Oakland Out Loud. Born and raised in Hawai’i, she now lives in northern California.

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