Historical Fiction – “Picture Bride” – A Family Saga

Historical Fiction – “Picture Bride” – A Family Saga

Historical Fiction by Michael G. Malaghan

Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.

The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.

Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Florida and Japan.


The stench of smoldering timber permeated Kenji’s nostrils as he walked over to the Japa-
nese language classroom Bilkerton had built shortly after Kenji had arrived in Waimea. The school stood only 50 feet behind the Fujimoto home, a smoking canker to the men gathering inside. He scanned the room jammed with standing workers, shouting, “Bilkerton!” “MacFarlane!” “murder!” “strike!” Rank body odors fouled the air. At the front, an oil lamp stood atop the teacher’s desk. Kenji wiggled sideways through the crowd until he was standing behind the wooden desk. He motioned to Kurume to take the teacher’s seat. As the men settled down, a man shouted, “The Christians talk about an eye for an eye. I say we put on masks and march back to Bilkerton’s house.” Applause roared in approval.

Kenji spotted the school bell at the edge of the desk, picked it up and rang it like a fire alarm until everyone had quieted down. “Do you want to hang alongside MacFarlane, Nakayama-san?” challenged Kenji, eyeing the rabble-rouser inciting the assembly. “Or, do you want justice and better living standards?”

“Strike!” another voice shouted.

Better than torching the house, thought Kenji. “I need a motion.” A motion was put forth, seconded and, by riotous acclamation, adopted. Kenji raised his hands. The workers needed to understand the commitment they were making. He used his oratorical “ask questions” technique to temper the rush to rashness. “Who remembers the O‘ahu strike of 1909?”

Half the hands went up.

“Did you experience the strike on O‘ahu or hear about it while you continued to work?”

That question sapped the crowd’s energy. Only Kurume raised his hand. The strike had bypassed the Big Island plantations. Kenji knew Kurume had stood in food lines and slept rough for six months. “Let’s hear from Kurume.”

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As a new retiree who was free to dream, Michael G. Malaghan attended a Maui Writers Conference presentation on historical novels. It left him with a deep desire to meld his interests in history and writing. After attending the premiere of historian Tom Coffman’s 2007 documentary, “The First Battle,” which detailed how Hawai‘i’s Japanese community avoided mass internment by preparing for that expected consequence three years before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Mike decided to tell the entire Japanese immigrant experience in historical novel form. His trilogy will take readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during the World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond. Mike was born in the Midwest and raised in Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida and volunteered for the Peace Corps after college. In his business life he was president of a Walt Disney licensee, marketing English language learning materials in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Mike and his wife Tomoko, a native of Tochigi Prefecture, are worldwide travelers and adventurers. They split their time between homes in Waikiki and Winter Park, Fla., and also spend nearly a month every year visiting with Tomoko’s parents in Japan, where Mike also conducts workshops for his former company.


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