Monday Books No. 12: Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre (1993)

Aloha, time for Monday books! There are certain books that speak of place and time, and yet, can resonate well beyond the initial publication date. I would place Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s excellent book of poetry Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre (1993) in this category. Yamanaka says this book was “uncensored women’s voices” and this is the book’s power.

Yamanaka’s writing is brutal, funny, raw, and filled with pathos, and her work never fails to engage young people. If you have bored students in your class (there’s always one!) then I’d recommend her poetry or fiction. I taught her novel Blu’s Hanging a few years ago; students are highly responsive to her work. She has a unique and powerful voice. 

Saturday Night is written in Pidgin English, part of the family of World Englishes. Suffice to say that there is no single correct pronunciation or style of English. In other words, Singaporean, Pigin, or Indian English is as valid as Australian English. My Dear Reader who insists that the only correct English is British or American (BBC/CNN), sorry, but you’re wrong—go down the JSTOR rabbit hole and research World Englishes. Fun fact: if you go to court in Hawai’i, you can ask for a Pidgin English translator if that is your primary language. The diction in this book makes for great discussions.

This book presents girls and women who are often dismissed—for their loudness, physicality, truth telling, anger, passion. I highly recommend this book.

#drstephaniehan #womenwarriorwriter #asianamericanwomenwriters

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