(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Lucky Come Hawaii is the story of Kama Gusada, a lovable, aging drunkard and pig farmer born in the United States but raised an Okinawan to whom the news of Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor is almost too good to be true. Convinced that the Japanese will easily overrun the island and defeat the Americans, Kama brews sake and paints the Rising Sun (the Japanese flag) on the roof of his home to welcome the triumphant arrival of the Japanese army. For his children, however, the incursion of the Buddhaheads (Japanese) into their lives is a disaster, foreboding a return of rigid Japanese customs. To complicate matters, Kama’s first-born son, Ichiro, is in Japan, having only recently graduated with honors never before bestowed on a nisei (second-generation Japanese American), while his second son, Niro, is at the University of Hawaii studying to be a dentist. In the meantime, his third son, Saburo, who spends most of his time fantasizing about his American high school English teacher, slips into compulsive gambling, and his daughter, Kimiko, falls in love with a Hawaiian, who enlists in the U.S. Army, very much against the wishes of Kimiko’s traditional parents. His pro-Japanese patriotic ardor dimming under such strain, Kama dreams of Ichiro and Niro meeting on the field of war, suffers a heart attack, and dies. As the novel concludes, Niro has joined the U.S. military, where he is pressed to serve as translator for the military police who terrorize Japanese Americans who fail to comply with rules of martial law. Complicitous in the racist brutalization of other Japanese immigrants, Niro is left to wonder if the distrust, hatred, and intolerance unleashed on December 7 (Pearl Harbor day) can ever be curbed, a question answered by a propitious Hawaiian rainbow that promises the return of the prewar Aloha spirit that once welcomed everyone to the islands.