Impact

Lucky Come Hawaii was among the first Japanese American novels to experience critical acclaim in the United States. The book captures a tragic and poignant period in U.S. history from an unusual perspective, looking at the nation’s war with Japan through the eyes of immigrants from Okinawa. In this way, Shirota’s work reflects not only a canonical shift in values concerning ethnic literature but also an evolving American view of war and patriotism. Through the Vietnam experience in the 1960’s, Americans, like Kama Gusada, began to recognize the moral ambiguities of modern warfare. War was no longer a matter of right versus wrong, good versus evil, civilization versus barbarianism, or, perhaps, as Shirota reveals, it never had been. It is, instead, cruelly indiscriminate, culturally complex, and darkly absurd.

Related Work

Shirota’s Pineapple White (1972) explores the life of a Japanese American gardener who leaves his Waipahu plantation and journeys to Los Angeles to experience a bewildering medley of adventures.

Additional Information

Okage Sama De: The Japanese in Hawai’i, 1885-1985 (1987), by Dorothy Ochiai Hazanna and Jane Okamoto Komeiji, provides additional information on the subject of Shirota’s book, and Dennis Kawaharada’s The Rhetoric of Identity in Japanese American Writings, 1948-1988 (1988), gives details on Shirota and his works.