Books by Ryka Aoki

Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul

Poems (Released Spring 2015)
2016 Lambda Literary Finalist
  • Paperback: 110 pages
  • Publisher: Biyuti Publishing (March 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991900855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991900855

Order from Biyuti Publishing here! Also available through Amazon.

“In the old old days, Ryka Aoki would be tagged as some kind of prophet, and the thumbsucking masses, bewildered & flummoxed by her talking stories, would stone or torch her. Forged from the ceaseless grappling match with life, living, identity, obligations, duty, home & selfhood, the poems in this striking collection are a libretto of what survives, what is elusive, what transforms or transmogrifies, and what remains primal & elemental.” –Justin Chin, Author of Gutted, and Bite Hard

“Sharp-eyed, witty, passionate and just, a lament for trans losses that is also somehow a celebration of life, this book made me cry and then laugh and then do something that was both at once. It is an important contribution to our literature and also that rare thing, a book of poetry you won’t be able to put down.”

 –Cat Fitzpatrick, Poetry Editor, Topside Press 

“This verse is at once emotional and ruthless. And, nevertheless, coherent. What brings it together is its commitment, in all its modes, to richness of detail. This is the gorgeously specified detail of the world, in memory or before your eyes. At the same time, it is the detail of language, the unexpected, brilliantly audible twists of the way this person speaks to you.”

 – Lambda Literary



He Mele A Hilo–A Hilo Song

A Novel (Released Fall 2014)
  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Topside Signature (2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1627290079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627290074

Order He Mele a Hilo from Topside Press here! Also available through Amazon.

“A Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song, a novel of authentic voices, lively idioms, is a story of colliding and evolving cultures on the Big Island. This debut novel is unlike any you have ever read, but you will not soon forget the lives portrayed here, the contrasting ethnicities, beliefs, sometimes fraught with greed, intrigues, prejudice, and bigotry, but transformed by ancient and contemporary hula, all blending in a feast of dance, music, food, local theater, into a community of distinct and colorful individuals finding its unique, inspired self.”Robert Morgan, Author of Gap Creek

“Threading myth, music and wonder through the lives of a small community of contemporary Hilo characters, Ryka Aoki here presents a charming world unique and important to American letters.   Rich in authentic voice, the book is grounded in emotional honesty, rhythmic prose, and doses of humor and heartbreak that loft the reader along as believers in Aoki’s thrilling dream.”Maureen McCoy, Author of Junebug and Walking After Midnight

“Aoki engages all of your senses with her portrait of Hawaii. Emotions, visions, ideas, dreams, and plain reality all occupy the space of this world simultaneously. Never before have I more definitively felt I was experiencing a place through art.”“It’s a simple, easy pleasure to let it all unfold before the mind’s eye, the effort behind its construction invisible as the stories neatly cohere… And there’s a little push to break out of what’s expected of one’s identity – or one’s perception of what the identities of others mean -that can trigger new, and for the residents of Hilo, oftentimes transcendent insights.”

–Lambda Literary

“This work will find its place not only within the recent renaissance of trans women’s literature but, I believe, within the canon of American literature as a whole… You will spend this whole novel wondering about Nona’s chicken recipe, and then you will put it down and realize you just read an incredibly nuanced critique of gentrification and colonialism.”Transgender Studies Quarterly

“Aoki’s spirited, slightly surrealistic, and ultimately upbeat novel challenges settler colonialist rhetoric in its evocation of a pluralist ethos for Hawaiian identity. He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song articulates an expansive and inspiring approach to the local and Hawaiian identities….would be productive to read alongside other writers already highlighted in AALF including Gary Pak and Kristiana Kahahauwila.” Asian American Literature Fans

“Together with conversations in pidgin, plate lunches, meditations on what it means to be Hawaiian, and magical occurrences, “He Mele A Hilo” is surely one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Just from the first 50 pages alone, I had a feeling that I was in for something special. Overall, “He Mele a Hilo” is the first novel in a while that I would give it a 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a book I will definitely read again, and one I would recommend for anyone who wants a really well written, authentic read about the people of modern-day Hawaii.” The Wind-Up Books Chronicle



Seasonal Velocities

2012 Lambda Literary Finalist

  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • Publisher: Trans-Genre Press; 1st edition (March 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985110503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985110505

Order Seasonal Velocities from Trans-Genre Press here! Also available through Amazon.

Seasonal Velocities invites the reader on a fragile and furious journey along the highways and skyways of discovery, retribution, and resolve. Through her poetry, essays, stories, and performances, award-winning writer Ryka Aoki has consistently challenged, informed, and enthralled queer audiences across the United States.

“In the hands of Ryka Aoki, words can be everything – a tool, a fire, a gift, a weapon, a meal, a barricade, a refuge. I was tempted to ration this book, so I’d have some when I needed it, but found myself gulping it down and was so nourished by it the whole way along.”S. Bear Bergman, The Nearest Exit May be Behind You, and Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation

Seasonal Velocities is what I want my son to hold of the trans community, the poetry of raw and reunion that I wish for his heart. Earnest, unflinching, exquisite, centered and sharp in its own uncertainty—this book is his community legacy that I am proud to pass down. For my son’s heart, for mine, for all of our winters, thank you, thank you, thank you for it.”—TT Jax, Lambda Literary

Seasonal Velocities is a startling gem of a book. With her characteristic honesty and a powerful, fierce grace, Ryka Aoki carries us through fear in the dark, the half-lives of scars, home, and hope. As vivid and unflinching as they are lyrical, these words deliver and demand sparkling truth even as they speak of violence, longing and love. Rather than aiming to transcend, Aoki invites us to make alliance with all the contradictions of being human, to grow stories, to listen, and to build community despite everything. –A. Finn Enke, Director of LGBT Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

I also have articles and stories in the following books:

Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity (Ooligan); The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard (Lambda Literary Award: Transgender) (Topside); Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies (Lambda Literary Award: Transgender) (Temple University Press); Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives, Tandem, Volume II: The Complete Second Season of the Lit Slam (Tandem: Poems of San Francisco’s Lit Slam) (Volume 2)