Nuanua: Pacific Writing in English Since 1980

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Albert Wendt
University of Hawaii Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 405 pages
Until the 1960s, most of the literature about Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia was written by outsiders. This anthology offers short stories, extracts from novels, and poems written in the past 15 years by authors in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. Many draw inspiration from indigenous oral traditions, while others use the techniques of oral storytelling and recitation. All are in English. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

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About the author (1995)

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.

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