Leaves of the Banyan Tree

Front Cover
University of Hawaii Press, 1979 - Fiction - 416 pages
1 Review
An epic spanning three generations, Leaves of the Banyan Tree tells the story of a family and community in Western Samoa, exploring on a grand scale such universal themes as greed, corruption, colonialism, exploitation, and revenge. Winner of the 1980 New Zealand Wattie Book of the Year Award, it is considered a classic work of Pacific literature.

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

This novel by the Samoan-born Wendt (The Birth and Death of the Miracle Man, 1986, etc.), first published in 1979, is a family saga that contrasts three generations of Western Samoans as a way of ... Read full review

Leaves of the banyan tree

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Set in Samoa, this novel involves three generations of an aiga (family) and reads like a parable. Toasa, the head of the family, tells stories of lions and ghosts and poignantly describes his peoples ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1979)

The best-known writer from the South Pacific, Albert Wendt was born into a Samoan family. He left Samoa in 1952 to attend a high school in New Zealand as a scholarship student. He later received an M.A. in history from Victoria University in Wellington. After teaching at universities in Fiji and Samoa, Wendt now holds a professorship of Pacific studies at Auckland University. Wendt is the product of two cultures---the Samoan of his childhood and the European of his education. This inevitable clash of values figures in Wendt's first novel, Sons for the Return Home (1973), which recounts a doomed love affair between a Samoan man and a woman of European descent. The narrative also reveals how the young man feels torn between two cultural poles. Wendt's next novel, Pouliuli (1976), takes Samoan life as its subject. Sometimes called a South Pacific version of King Lear, the story follows the trials of an aged chief who tests those around him. Wendt's novel receiving the most attention is Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979), a saga of Samoan family life that moves through several decades until the post-independence period. Flying-Fox in a Freedom Tree and The Birth and Death of the Miracle Man, Wendt's two collections of short stories, take up aspects of Samoan life---its traditions, its clashes with European culture, and its disintegration. In these stories Wendt rewrites old myths to show how tradition can instruct the present. Wendt has also published poetry, Inside Us the Dead (1976) and Shaman of Visions (1984), which incorporates the tropical beauty of Samoa and its oral traditions. He also has compiled several anthologies, including collections of poetry from Fiji, Western Samoa, the New Hebrides, and the Solomons.

Bibliographic information