Lee Tonouchi

Authors Pavilion
Saturday May 5, 12:00 pm
Presenting his book, Significant Moments in da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son

Genre: Adult fiction; poetry
Bess Press, Inc; October 18, 2011
Paperback; $11.22; 152 pages

The Book: Oriental Faddah and Son delivers “Da Pidgin Guerrilla’s” most entertaining yet poignant work to date through a combination of lamenting and humorous poems. As you read, you will journey with author Lee A. Tonouchi through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. You will laugh out loud, sometimes cry, and maybe even discover things about yourself along the way. Award-winning author Tonouchi delivers a captivating, semi-autobiographical tale through his mastery of the Pidgin Language. Tonouchi intricately weaves life’s most basic human elements—love and loss, birth and death—with uncovering the identity of one’s true self. In the “Guerrilla’s” case, it’s the essence of being an Okinawan in Hawai‘i.


Significant Moments in da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son… is entertaining and most importantly, paints a solid picture of two characters, creating people an audience can connect with, and ultimately care about.

Honolulu Weekly

“Da Pidgin Guerrilla” strikes again. … Tonouchi speaks what we never said but wished we had to our own father, mother, and grandparents. His work is more than a confessional, a treatise on Okinawan pride, or just a tribute to his ancestors. … The sophistication of his storytelling illuminates our lives in unexpected, passionate, and touching ways. Read dis one and laugh. Den read um again and cry. And come to understand that this Oriental son speaks for us all.

– Darrell H.Y. Lum, co-editor, Bamboo Ridge Press

Each poetic episode, when read in one sitting, becomes a significant moment in Lee Tonouchi’s moving book. He retains the spirit of Aloha and the Uchinanchu soul in each of his poems. His level of perception and insight into people is astonishing. Funny, tearful and heartfelt. All poignant, delightful and entertaining. Tonouchi, da bugga, ter’ri’fic ear for story-telling. He show pidgin got one place in ‘Merican stories. Read his Significant Moments. You find out.

— Jon Shirota, author, Lucky Come Hawaii

Lee Tonouchi is one gifted, funny, honest brother. His book is a small miracle—in the voice of a young boy to a young man who takes you by the hand and heart into da real Hawai‘i—to the folks who truly make the islands unique—a must for any reader who wants to know the truth behind the fantasy. An important contribution to Asian Pacific American literature and a true gift to all Hawai‘i locals to be able to see themselves reflected so beautifully in this work. Amen.

— Ishle Yi Park, author, The Temperature of This Water

Q: What’s this book about?

A: It’s about finding humor in tragedy. It’s about da relationship between one son and his uncommunicative faddah in da wake of da maddah’s early passing. An den, it’s also about da son’s relationship with his grandmas as he discovers what it means for be Okinawan in Hawaii.

Q: Was your father supportive of you growing up to be a writer, or did he want you to be something else?  

A: Wuz his idea! When I wuz in high school, my faddah always told me, “Lee, you should become one writer. Cuz den you can jus stay home, no need commute to work, no need fight da traffic.” I toll ’em, “I cannot come one writer, cuz I dunno how for write.” Cuz at dat time da only role models I had in school wuz Shakespeare and Faulkner and I knew I could nevah write li’ dat. Wuzn’t until I came college, here at UH, dat I found out, ho, get guys writing in pidgin. So hea I stay now. I became one writer.

Lee A. Tonouchi (born circa 1972) is a Hawaii born writer and editor, who calls himself “Da Pidgin Guerilla” because of his strong advocacy of the Hawaiian Pidgin language. Tonouchi graduated from Aiea High School in 1990. He promotes the idea that the Creole language known as Hawaiian Pidgin is an appropriate language for both creative and academic writing. He was inspired by the works of Eric Chock in the journal Bamboo Ridge. All of his writing, including his Master’s Thesis, is in Pidgin. He was an instructor of English at Kapiolani Community College in 2007. He also taught at Hawaii Pacific University during 2005, and later. His works often address family relationships in a humorous way.


Author’s other titles, publishers, publication dates:

Da Word; Bamboo Press Ridge; 2001

Living Pidgin: Contemplations on Pidgin Culture; Tinfish; 2002

Gone Feeshing; play performed at Kumu Kahua Theatre; 2004

Da Kine Dictionary: Da Hawai‘i Community Pidgin Dictionary Projeck (compiler); Bess Press; 2005

Living Pidgin; play performed at Kumu Kahua Theatre; 2007

Buss Laugh: Stand Up Poetry from Hawai‘i (editor); Bess Press; 2009

Three Year Swim Club; play performed at Honolulu Theatre for Youth; 2010

Da Kine Space; play performed at Kumu Kahua Theatre; 2011


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