kaya publishes books of the asian pacific diaspora

✚Other Authors

Sia Figiel

Sia Figiel was born in 1967. Author of novels, plays, and poetry, she has traveled extensively in Europe and the Pacific Islands, and has had residencies at the University of Technology in Sydney, the East-West Center in Hawaii, the Pacific Writing Forum at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and Logoipulotu College in Savaii. She is also known as a performance poet and has appeared at several international literary festivals. Her first novel, where we once belonged, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Best First Book for the Southeast Asia/South Pacic region. She lives in Samoa.


they who do not grieve

Kaya Press 2003

Sia Figiel’s powerful, poetic skills weave together the voices of three generations of women from two families in Samoa and New Zealand. In this powerful sequel to her award-winning first novel, where we once belonged, Figiel invokes the mythic twin sisters who brought the tattoo custom to Samoa as guides to two young women as they navigate a society that threatens their self-determination as Samoans and as women.


Where We Once Belonged

Kaya Press 1999

A bestseller in New Zealand and winner of the prestigious Commonwealth Prize, Sia Figiel’s debut novel represents an exciting and promising new voice on the international literary scene. It also marks the first time a novel by a Samoan woman has been published in the United States. Lively, spirited, and fiercely written, Figiel uses the traditional Samoan storytelling form of su’ifefiloi to talk back to Western anthropological studies on Samoan women and culture. In doing so, she weaves an honest – and sometimes brutal – coming-of-age story which combines poetry with an exhilarating combination of humor and violence. Told in a series of linked episodes which recall V. S. Naipaul and Sandra Cisneros, this powerful and highly original narrative follows thirteen-year-old Alofa Filiga as she navigates the mores and restrictions of her village, Malaefou, and comes to terms with her own womanhood and search for identity.


“Poetic, energetic, swirling with wild sweeps of feeling, this is powerful and uninhibited writing which unleashes a world dense with ghosts, taboos, deceptions and violence… Bracing and exhilarating.” — The Times, London

“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 Díaz, author of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“A storytelling triumph.” — Elle Australia

“A sort of Samoan Puberty Blues, in which Gauguin is dead but Elvis lives on.” — Vogue Australia

“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

Sia Figiel news

At Home In The World: New Directions in Writing from the Asia Pacific

From South Asian Kenyans struggling under the threat of expulsion, to Samoan girls on the cusp of womanhood, to a word-obsessed, multiracial Aussie piecing together his family’s past through fragments of letters and half-forgotten stories. The characters found in Kaya Press books are as provocative and nuanced as the writers who give them voice. Celebrate […]