Saturday, June 16, 2012

When foreigners write about the South Pacific

from w
I've been reading a few books lately about the South Pacific but by expatriates/foreigners/Aussies. One was 'No kava for Johnny' by the chap who wrote 'They're a weird mob'.  It's very funny, about a small-build Samoan boy/young man who just wants respect but he causes chaos wherever he goes or whatever he does. Naive and honest. The writer spent three years in Samoa and says it's basically a true story and how 'Johnny' told him about his life. Okay, then I wonder what Samoans think of books like this. I know what they thought of Margaret Mead's writing about 'Coming of Age in Samoa' - they didn't like it!  Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson - well, okay. A romantic view perhaps and he's a hero, and that was also way in the past.

And I also read this week 'By Reef and Palm' by Louis Becke, one of my Dad's old books. It's a collection of short stories about beachcombers, traders, and Islanders - set it seems in the 1880s.  Seems to be rather honest and barely romanticised.  So what do Islanders think of these interpretations, I wonder.

 I enjoy the short stories and some of the articles in the Fiji Times written by Seona Smiles, once again an expat. person who observes life around her, mainly from her Fiji Indian networks and family.

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