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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA From American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

News Release April 13, 2000


Congressman Eni Faleomavaega is pleased to announce that with the publication of Where We Once Belonged, Ms. Sia Figiel has become the first Samoan female author to have a novel published in the United States.

"In another first for Samoan females, it is a real honor to bring to the attention of my fellow Samoans yet another success story. Ms. Figiel’s book was a best seller in New Zealand and is the winner of the prestigious Commonwealth Prize," said Faleomavaega.

The author has received critical acclaim in both New Zealand and the United States, and is considered one of the most promising new voices on the international literary scene. In Where We Once Belonged, Ms. Figiel uses the traditional Samoan storytelling form, combined with humor, to talk back to Western anthropological studies on Samoan women and culture.

She is currently touring the United States with book readings in New York City, Philadelphia and Berkeley (April 22). The professional critics have been giving rave reviews:

"Sia Figiel has written a passion, a song of longing and loss, a song of fire. The young woman in Where We Once Belonged and the world she seeks to navigate are marvels of prose. I do not know from where Sia draws her insights and her language, but I’m as grateful for their existence as I am grateful for the sun." - Junot Diaz, author of Drown

"A bold, accomplished and highly subversive first novel... Figiel’s characters and language always remain lucid and powerful. Sia Figiel is to be congratulated on this complex, funny and richly rewarding novel." - Courier-Mail, Australia

"Figiel’s unique, poetic voice demythologizes Samoan culture as it criticizes Western colonization." - Publishers Weekly

"Sia Figiel is a major literary voice ushering the vastness of Pacific Rim literatures into the millennium." - Lois-Ann Yamanaka, author of Heads by Harry

"A sort of Samoan Puberty Blues, in which Gauguin is dead but Elvis lives on." - Vogue Australia

Ms. Figiel has had her second novel, They Who do not Grieve, published in New Zealand. She lives in Samoa.

Title: Where We Once Belonged Author: Sia Figiel Publisher: Kaya. Distributed by DAP (800-338-book) Pages: 248 pages Category: First fiction, Pacific Island literature Price: $14.95 ISBN: 1-885030-27-4

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