Epeli Hau’ofa, Tales of the Tikongs, University of Hawai’i Press: In this lively satire of contemporary South Pacific life, we meet a familiar cast of characters: multinational experts, religious fanatics, con men, “simple” villagers, corrupt politicians. In writing about this tiny world of flawed personalities, Hau‘ofa displays his wit and range of comic resource, amply exercising what one reviewer called his “gift of seeing absurdity clearly.”
Epeli Hau’ofa, We Are the Ocean, University of Hawa’i Press: We Are the Ocean is a collection of essays, fiction, and poetry by Epeli Hau‘ofa, whose writing over the past three decades has consistently challenged prevailing notions about Oceania and prescriptions for its development. He highlights major problems confronted by the region and suggests alternative perspectives and ways in which its people might reorganize to relate effectively to the changing world.
Hau‘ofa’s essays criss-cross Oceania, creating a navigator’s star chart of discussion and debate. Spurning the arcana of the intellectual establishments where he was schooled, Hau‘ofa has crafted a distinctive—often lyrical, at times angry—voice that speaks directly to the people of the region and the general reader. He conveys his thoughts from diverse standpoints: university-based analyst, essayist, satirist and humorist, and practical catalyst for creativity. According to Hau‘ofa, only through creative originality in all fields of endeavor can the people of Oceania hope to strengthen their capacity to engage the forces of globalization.
“Our Sea of Islands,” “The Ocean in Us,” “Pasts to Remember,” and “Our Place Within,” all of which are included in this collection, outline some of Hau‘ofa’s ideas for the emergence of a stronger and freer Oceania. Throughout he expresses his concern with the environment and suggests that the most important role that the “people of the sea” can assume is as custodians of the Pacific, the vast area of the world’s largest body of water.
Epeli Hau’ofa, Kisses in the Nederends, University of Hawai’i Press: In the best Rabelaisian tradition, this brilliant satire weaves a tale of improbabilities around the seat of the last great taboo. Oilei Bomboki wakes one morning with an excruciating pain that sends him anxiously searching for a cure. Unsuccessful treatments at the hands of various healers and doctors, culminating in a bizarre operation, lead the desperate Oilei to seek the help of Babu Vivekanand–sage, yogi, and conman. Through Babu’s teachings, Oilei learns to love and respect the source of his own complaint. By turns savage and absurdly comic, this brilliant satire allows Hau’ofa to comment on aspects of life in a small Pacific community perched precariously between traditional and modern ways.