Writer Kristiana Kahakauwila is of kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian), German and Norwegian descent. She earned her BA in comparative literature from Princeton University and her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. In 2015-16 she was the Lisa Goldberg Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study.
Currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University, Kahakauwila has also taught at Chaminade University of Honolulu and in the Low-Residency MFA at Oregon State University–Cascades. Before entering academia, Kahakauwila served as a writer and editor for Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, and Highlights for Children.
Her debut book, This is Paradise: Stories (Hogarth, 2013), explores the natural and social environments of contemporary Hawai’i, weaving together multiple narratives that reveal the negative cultural and environmental impacts of commercialism and tourism.
Her work has been well-received and recognized. This is Paradise was a 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and was short-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her next project is a novel, a multi-generational family drama that explores water and indigenous rights on the island of Maui. This novel traces the trajectory of globalization’s impacts in Hawai’i since the nation-state was annexed by the United States in 1898. Her works draw attention to the beauty of the Hawaiian people and landscapes while exposing the devastation caused by colonialism and capitalism.
Kahakauwila was the Jane Tinkham Broughton Fellow in Fiction at the 2013 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has also been the recipient of residencies from the BAU Institute at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California, among others. Recent work has appeared in Off the Path Volume II: An Anthology of 21st Century American Indian and Indigenous Writers (Off the Pass Press, 2015), GEO Magazine, Mission at Tenth, Kartika Review, and RED INK.
When she is not teaching in Bellingham, WA, she is likely back in Hawai’i.