Little America

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

9780374720773 fc
Hardcover, MCD × FSG, 2020
Kuwai strong washburn web

Kawai Strong Washburn

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In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods—a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i—with tragic consequences—they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

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  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors bursts with life. It is bright and beautifully noisy. It’s so good it hurts and hurts to where it heals. It is revelatory and unputdownable. Washburn is an extraordinarily brilliant new talent. This family saga is shark tooth sharp. Its pages shoot off crackles and sparks, and you come out of it changed. It is sublime.”

    TOMMY ORANGE, author of There There
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors is set in Hawaii with a native Hawaiian family dealing with race, class and poverty all the while being fiercely loyal to each other and their land. This loyalty comes with a price though as each sibling struggles with their particular gift, bouncing around episodes of rivalry and the tough decisions they feel they must make in order to step into their place in the world – a world that they and others must come to understand inextricably embraces their ancestry and their island home. This is inseparable to who they are. That the middle son is blessed with an otherworldly healing skill adds an extraordinary note to this family, bringing him and them to a kind of breaking point. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is compelling, gorgeous, thoughtful and unique. While praise like this has been said before Sharks in the Time of Saviors is absolutely a novel one will not forget. It’s stunning.”

    Sheryl Cotleur, Frontlist Buyer, Copperfield’s Books
  • “Kawai Strong Washburn has written the great Hawaiian novel. He is a virtuoso who will dizzy and enchant you with sentences that are crazy lyrical but never distract from the raw, comic, devastating, loving familial magic that is the heart of the book. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a volcanic powerhouse of a debut.”

    Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a lush, virtuosic novel with breathless scope and lasting depth. Kawai Strong Washburn’s vision is searing, his talent explosive, his heart beating loud and proud on every page.”

    Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors is the story of a family, a people, and a legend, all wrapped in one. Faith and grief, rage and love, this book pulses with all of it. Kawai Strong Washburn makes his debut with a wealth of talent and a true artist's eye.”

    Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
  • “Kawai Strong Washburn has written one of the finest debut novels I’ve read in years, a story about the resilience of family and resilience of home—a story at once lucid, original and transcendent. There is something of a Denis Johnson quality to Washburn’s writing, the way every sentence dances, moves in unexpected ways. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a piece of magic.”

    Omar El Akkad, author of American War
  • “How do we confront our own deepest mysteries? Kawai Strong Washburn’s Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a feverish, booming orchestra of a novel that leaps off the cliff’s edge into a world of delirious strangeness, fury, and hope. Read it for its tour de force storytelling. Read it because it is, quite simply, endlessly, mesmerizing.”

    Paul Yoon, author of Snow Hunters