On an island paradise somewhere in the South Pacific, Managua—the only native who can read or write—is busily translating Hamlet into pidgin English when a plane interrupts his noble work. Strapping on his false leg, he makes his way to the landing strip to greet the unexpected arrival: William Hardt, a young American lawyer driven by his misguided ambition to win reparations for the island's inhabitants.
Hardt is not the first white outsider to pay a visit; the British came earlier, bringing their language, the small pigs that run wild in the jungle, and Shakespeare . . . and the Americans followed with guns, land mines, and Coca-Cola. But in this place of riotously logical ritual, Hardt's determined quest to do good could make him the most devastating visitor of all.
Profoundly moving and achingly funny, One Big Damn Puzzler brilliantly explores the collision of the twenty-first century with unsullied pagan reality—and establishes John Harding as one of the most imaginative contemporary chroniclers of the human condition.
Set on a fictional South Pacific island inhabited by black bantam pigs and a clan of nearly-naked eccentrics, this excessively zany British import has a raging conscience and a muted heart. Managua, a one-legged tribesman (most of his fellow inhabitants are missing limbs), is obsessed with transcribing Hamletinto island pidgin and finds his unconventional paradise disturbed when William Hardt, a white American lawyer, arrives to arrange reparations for natives whose limbs have been blown off by the landmines left behind years ago by the American military. Hardt soon witnesses a staggering array of peculiarities: the "the shitting beach" where villagers empty their bowels every morning; transvestite men forced into dressing in drag by parents who wanted girls; vision quests brought on by consuming "kassa," a red hallucinogenic paste. A few years after his departure from the island, Hardt's successful mission has drastic consequences for the island. Journalist Harding (While the Sun Shines) is an equal opportunity and brutally sharp lampooner, though he sometimes misses (notably in his invocation of 9/11 as a parallel to corporate America's exploitation of the island). Folly, silliness and cultural sucker punches come at full speed in this ribald, imaginative farce. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information