Mavis Hara is a reading instructor at Kapi`olani Community College in Honolulu. She has published numerous stories and poems, notably her award-winning story "Carnival Queen," and has been anthologized in Asian American fiction and poetry collections such as Growing Up Asian American. She is sansei with roots in Hawai`i plantations, a breast cancer survivor, adoptive mother, and military wife, and she claims her stories are all fiction.
"My mother is sitting at a table peeling an orange. She does this almost every night and I already know what she's going to say.
"Eat this orange, good for you, lots of vitamin C."
"I don't want to eat orange now, Ma." I know it is useless, but I say it anyway. My mother is the kind of Japanese lady who will hunch down real small when she passes in front of you when you're watching TV. Makes you think she's quiet and easygoing, but not on the subject of vitamin C.
"I peeled it already. Make yourself want it." Some people actually think my mother is shy.
— From "Carnival Queen," one of the stories in "An Offering of Rice"
While "poignant" is the operative word in Hara's work, humor also peeks through. In a scene between a nissei mother and her sansei daughter, in the story "Carnival Queen," about the long-gone McKinley High School popularity competition, a quietly hilarious battle of generations and passive-aggressive behavior will make thousands of Hawai'i Japanese-Americans chuckle in memory of their mother or grandmother. But the stories also have a universal appeal, in addressing debilitating illness (breast cancer in this case), funerals and wifely and daughterly duties.
Bamboo Ridge author brings that 'good story' - Honolulu Advertiser
Suicidal neighbors, accidental maiming at a pineapple cannery and the beauty secrets of McKinley High Carnival Queen contestants are just some of the affairs found in Hara's collection, "An Offering of Rice" ...
Fictional Firsthand Accounts - Ka Leo
This book will fool you. Pick it up, scan the cover, peek at the first few entries and you'll be tricked into expecting another ethnic memoir, another psalm of plantation life, another tribute to Japanese culture through reverence for rice. It is all those things, for starters. But just for starters. Don't be fooled.
‘Rice’ offers more than typical cultural memoir - Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Mavis Hara’s book is a perfect example of how character should be the focus of story, not the number of papio you could catch in Kaneohe Bay thirty years ago.
'A Gift of Character' by Chris McKinney - HAWAIIREADERS.COM