Hardcover, 360 pp.
Hawaiian-born Davenport’s new novel continues the forceful and lush yet anti romanticized depiction of her native islands that characterized her debut, Shark Dialogues (LJ 4/1/94). Though Davenport reintroduces Pono, the kahuna, or seer, who dominated Shark Dialogues, star-crossed lovers Keo and Sunny are at the heart of Song of the Exile. Keo, a talented jazz musician, leaves home and family to pursue his musical obsession. Sunny follows him to Paris, but the horrors of World War II separate them. Sunny eventually suffers the fate that thousands of women endured as “comfort women,” or forced prostitutes for Japanese soldiers. Davenport’s scope broadens to cover Keo’s family, the Meahunas, but the suffering, tragedy, and survival of these lovers remain the haunting, mesmerizing centerpiece.