He Mele A Hilo shows up in Vela! :D

This morning, I woke up to a bunch of tweets about an article from the wonderful Trish Salah on Six Debut Novels by Trans Women. :) And I found He Mele A Hilo on the list. I am really happy to be on this list, with some amazing authors.  

Thank you to Trish and to Vela!



1. Ryka Aoki, He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song

Ryka Aoki’s He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song is a gorgeously rambling ensemble tale of postcolonial living in Hawaii, which is by turns meditative and sorrowful— but mostly comic, verging on hilarious. In fact, Aoki had me laughing before I’d even begun to read the story proper, with the Mahalo! that welcomes the reader, not without irony: “Use the Glossary at the back of the book and soon you’ll feel like a local!”

Thank you Wind-Up Books Chronicle!

I am stunned. Really just feel so happy and blessed that He Mele A Hilo continues to reach readers. It’s as if I put my best stories  (and my recipe book) into a bottle and sent it into the sea. Suddenly, it has come back–with new readers and new friends.  Thank you so much!

Here is this wonderful review from The Wind-Up Books Chronicle. 

MAHALO!!! <3 <3 <3


Books By Trans and Non-Binary Authors–Thank You!

Gosh, all three of my books made this list for World Book Day! <3 Thank you!

A really, really wonderful review… Mahalo…

So, Stephanie Barbé Hammer just wrote a beautiful review of He Mele A Hilo.  At first, I was speechless–reviews from readers are always cherished, but this was so enthusiastic and so dead on.  (Besides, how often does one get mentioned in the same article as Yowamushi Pedal?!?)

I feel, in this time of so much violence and ugliness, the painfully regular murders and suicides of trans women of color…that a work that is not dystopian is, its own way, subversive.

It is a mistake to assume that a writer’s desire to write about what is pretty, or even pastoral, implies that she is blind to the cruelty around her. It may be closer to the truth that the realities of day to day inhumanity can inspire a writer to imagine better, gentler worlds where one’s common humanity is recognized and implicitly honored. I have mourned too many friends. I have been to vigils. This is kind of how life is for a trans woman of color. I mean–it’s just how it is.  I teach students self defense, then hear about how they have actually had to use it because they have been attacked in so many dehumanizing ways.

For me, writing a novel where goodness actually might not be hokey, that might prevail, that might transform the world into something better–this is my way to say to a sometimes terrible world, “You’ve not destroyed me.” Not only that, you’ve not taken away my ability to believe in something better. You’ve not even taken away my ability to dance, to play music, to have a picnic, or to have fun.  You’ve not taken away my memories, not even the good ones. Now, watch me go. HIME!!!!!!





August 14 at Beyond Baroque–Ryka’s Really Last Minute Publicity for Her Beyond Baroque Reading

OK! So I really screwed up the publicity for this event, and I know many of you probably have plans–BUT!! If you come, I’ll be reading and talking about Hawaii, and signing books, with maybe a discount, and THERE WILL BE DONUTS!

“RYKA AOKI reads from her debut novel, A Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song, a tale of colliding and evolving cultures on the Big
Island of Hawai’i. 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.
Hosted by RICHARD MODIANO. Regular Admission $10, Students & Seniors $6, Members Free.”

This event starts Friday, Aug. 14 at 8 pm.

Beyond Baroque
681 N. Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Ph: 310-822-3006
Fax: 310-821-0256


Beyond Baroque is one of the United States’ leading independent Literary | Arts Centers and public spaces dedicated to expanding the public’s knowledge of poetry, literature and art through cultural events and community interaction

A New Review from Canada! :D Thank you, Casey!

This from Casey over at:

Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian # 8: LGBTQ Magic Realism


he mele a hiloFinally, I want to highly recommend He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki.  It perhaps doesn’t fit your question, because it doesn’t feature LGBT characters except in passing, but it is written by a trans woman (an issue she discusses in the video linked below, actually!).  I recently finished reading this book and it was so. damn. good.  Check out this video of Aoki reading from the novel, which is set in her native Hawaii, written in Hawaiian Pidgin English, and starring a lovable, diverse set of characters.  It was an endlessly heartwarming and endearing read.  You really get a feel for everyday Hawaii on the Big Island, peppered with such magical acts as mysterious recoveries from life-threatening illnesses, beautiful spirit women who have been haunting you since childhood, and some character vaguely like Bill Gates but black and who is only recognized by a select few locals.  It’s strange and wonderful.

Why I Write: Ryka Aoki (a.k.a. I’m in Publishers Weekly!)

Hi All! I just wanted to share this news! This is a piece I wrote for Publishers Weekly. It’s my first time in a mainstream national publication! <3 Ryka



A Message in a Bottle <3

Hi Everyone!

Ryka here. :)  I have a big favor to ask of you, especially those who have read and enjoyed my novel, He Mele A Hilo. The summer is coming up, and I am wondering if you might recommend my book to your family, your reading group, an aunty–anyone whom you think might want to take a literary trip to Hawaii.

He Mele right now is placed almost exclusively in trans and queer studies spaces and contexts. But, really, anyone who’s read the book knows it kind of doesn’t belong there. Just as Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist found readers beyond “Portuguese Lit,” I want so much for He Mele A Hilo to find its readership, wherever it may be. If you have a Goodreads, and He Mele A Hilo reminds you of a book about another place, or another book with magical realism, or that features food…I would be so happy if you might consider placing He Mele A Hilo on the same bookshelf. If you think this book reminds you of this novel or that writer, please let other fans of those books or writers know.

In some ways, writing a novel is like sending a very large note in a bottle. I am so grateful that my note has found you. <3 I would be so grateful if you helped He Mele A Hilo reach other promising shores.

Mahalo! <3


FYI–more stuff about He Mele A Hilo

“Hilo” actually means “to twist” or “to braid.” I mention the ti leaf lei in the book briefly. Stories talk of Kamehameha I using a ti leaf rope to secure his boats off Hilo Bay.

I thought to interweave the story as I did, in part because of Hilo’s name. In a way, you can read the title as “A Twisted/Braided Song”

He Mele A Hilo available now!

I am happy to tell you that He Mele A Hilo is available from Amazon, and should be available through your local bookstore within a few days. While my book has technically been available through Topside, this is a major event. Publication is great, but it is distribution that makes books available.

Amazon has its problems, but many people prefer to buy their books from a place like Amazon, so it is very important, especially if a writer wants to reach new readers, to have her books available easily and readily. And, on top of that, now, one can finally be able to support their local bookstore and buy He Mele A Hilo, as well. Just happy about this all around!