The God of Small Islands. "The Trickster" by Jane Downing. [review]
This story is told from a number of points of view. One of them is that of Joy, a woman with impeccable light Green political credentials, a job in a suburban library in Canberra and a mother who seems to have a clearer idea of what Joy should be doing than Joy does herself. Joy's partner, Geoff, takes a job at the Office of Planning in the Marshall Islands. His motives are good. He'd like to help. That's his problem. He has walked into a culture where much happens but nobody ever seems to do anything. "The Trickster" is rich in satire, mostly of a gentle rather than a punishing kind. Initially, it appears that the novel will be garnished with stereotypes of Pacific passivity. As the book evolves, however, its purpose is never so obvious. "The Trickster" is intimately acquainted with the Marshall Islands: with the detritus left in our neighbour by both World War II and atomic testing; with the buildings that have been developed but stand empty; with the yachting club without yachts; with the problems disposing of rubbish; with a supply centre in which everything useful that is imported manages to get lost, only to turn up in the faces of people who are looking for something else. It is an environment that has been put upon, squeezed out and wrung dry. Geoff and Joy are part of a chain of visitors who have wanted to help but can't.