Book Review

November 19, 2007 at 6:45 am (Uncategorized) ()

·                                 Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk Publisher: Swirl (January 23, 2007)                         

 A short novel that looks at expatriate life in Papua New Guinea in the 60s and 70s. There are a range of characters from missionaries and administration employees to commercial people.

 Life is played out against a backdrop of a vast untamed land on the verge of political transformation. The drinking,womanizing and at times altruism of the largely male-dominated society reflects a devil may care attitude that might deceive the reader in its very simplicity.

The characterization of personalities is portrayed in a kaleidoscope of events that at times lacks a depth of analysis, however, in a strange way paints an authentic picture that has an air of reality about it.

James Ward, the central character, never really harmonizes heaven in the next world with his quest for sexual fulfillment in this world. Bill Clayton, his great friend, is a much more practical man and he sustains a life with much more positive outcomes. 

Perhaps the greatest fault in the novel is that the land and its people are at times seen as a mere appendage to the expatriates’ concerns. This criticism in some ways applies to the women in the story.

There has been some attempt to portray Laura Sheppard, the woman Ward loves, as a substantial person in her own right and Dr Yuriko Kamae as a female with a mind as well as a body but the native women in the main are little more than tantalizing sexual objects. This on the other hand might tempt one to ask was this really true of Papua New Guinea? 

Overall, the book is worth reading mainly because it has a certain unadulterated reality about it, which one suspects springs from the author’s long years spent in PNG and it can justifiably be classified in the genre of historical fiction. 

A. W. Collins

Lecturer in English

Casablanca University of Technology

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1 Comment

  1. deberigny said,

    So the book has ‘a certain unadulterated reality about it’ and so does this particular review which fits into ‘the genre of fiction’.

    H. Harrison

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