Fiji: An Untouched Subject

I thought Fiji would be one of the countries I would not find  a book from, but it was in fact quite easy to find one. The selection was obviously not wide, and that is why I ended up reading something different from everything else I’ve ever read: Kisses in the Nederends by Epeli Hauʻofa.

Oilei Bomboki wakes up one morning with a stomach pain, and nothing is the same after that. He searches for a cure, and along the way he seeks out various doctors and healers to find the right treatment. This is the clean, “acceptable” synopsis of the book. However, let’s face it, this book is about a man’s anus.

Indeed, it is “unacceptable” humor, and it offends a lot of people. What can you do? Isn’t literature here to open up floodgates, to question, express thoughts, provoke, and even discuss the most sacred and uncomfortable issues? So, how is it possible that there is an overflow of books about genocide, all kinds of violence, incest, mass murderers, illegalities, and anything and everything that can and will hurt and offend humans, but basically no books about farts and our rear ends?

Fair question, I would say. The book is indeed about some unwanted bodily functions, but it is so much more than just that. The book has in fact quite a few layers, and these layers are filled with more acceptable topics, for example tradition versus modernity, the culture in the South Pacific, and imperialism. What makes this little piece of literature especially interesting is, that the book is based on the author’s personal experiences. Ouch!

Once part of the British empire, now turning its head towards New Zealand in many issues, shows how hard it is for a small country to struggle through everything, because not everything is accessible or even possible to get or do in your own country, much like the life of our hero in the book.

This is a satirical book, and one of the main points in this book is that joking about even the most painful things is important. Laughing at problems is typical in many countries in the South Pacific Ocean, but to be fair, it seems to be universal, at least when it comes to a certain type of people. In the end, what can you do when nothing goes your way, and everything is piling up? Well, you can always laugh, it might not help, but will crying take care of the problem?

I can honestly say this is the first time I have read a book that reflects everything through one man’s anus. The author uses his own as a metaphor for what is happening in the society. Quite clever, I would say. I appreciate it when authors are willing to enter the unknown, and to write about even the most disgusting things, things some readers will see as gross and wrong. I think there have been many books about worse subjects, so it’s not “that far out”. Humor is the best defense mechanism, and it works well in this context.

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