In praise of Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

April 28, 2008 at 1:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

 

 

As a former ASAG Officer I was privileged to live in PNG for over twenty years. I lived in this strange, beautiful land in Taim Bilong Masta. In those slowly declining years of Australian involvement in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea; those transition years leading to premature independence, the time proudly referred to by politicians as: PNG Lukim Nau or Black Masta Olgeta. The view about the untimeliness of independence depends on your assessment of the economy and the political situation when it took place. The point I am simply making is:  I was living in PNG roughly in the same period that the novel by David Wall was set in. Perhaps this fact gives me a certain kinship with the book in knowing the location settings and the type of characters he describes.

 

This novel by David Wall portrays a topnotch collection of sketches, psychologically impressive, masterfully collated and skillfully presented. The life stories of expatriates from many parts of the world in the administration and in private enterprise are described as they cope successfully or otherwise with living in PNG. In a land where over 700 languages are spoken they communicated with the indigenous as best they could in Pidgin English. One can criticize them and disagree with the attitudes of many expatriates, who are the characters in this novel, while understanding some of their motivations.

 

Some of the criticism of this novel centres on the attitudes of the characters and too strongly tends to identify the author with these same attitudes. I myself would not endorse all that went on in the PNG of old, however, all criticism should be impartial and not couched in poorly disguised envy.

 

 

As one of his admiring readers I sincerely hope that David Wall will continue writing more earthy fiction about far away places. Perhaps a big request but one I know he can fulfill and I extend to him my thanks and as they would say in Port Moresby: Bamahuta turagu (Goodbye my friend).

 

 

  

Frank Sibl

26th April, 2008

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