Mark Panek, author of Gaijin Yokozuna: A Biography of Chad Rowan, will read from his biography of the Hawaiʻi-born sumotori on Tuesday, October 16, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in UCB 100 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Gaijin Yokozuna explores the changes in cultural identity that Waimanalo‘s Chad Rowan made on his way to becoming sumotori Akebono, the first foreigner — gaijin — to reach the top rank, yokozuna (grand champion), in a sport that dates back to Japanese creation myths.
Panek researched the Ka Palapala Poʻokela-nominated book in Japan and completed it during his second year as an assistant professor of English at UH Hilo. He will discuss, among other topics, the sensitive issues involved in writing across cultures about living subjects. An instructor in composition and rhetoric, life writing and creative writing, Panek recently completed a novel set mostly in Waimanalo and is currently working on a biography of murdered Hawaiʻi sumo wrestler Percy Kipapa.
This special event is presented by the UH Hilo College of Continuing Education and Community Service, and sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and the Nishimura Japanese Culture Fund. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to fulfill grant conditions. Call 974-7664 for registration information.