I knew of a few books from Micronesia when I started this challenge, but I simply could not get hold of one. Then I saw that a new anthology was written and I was about to order it when I by accident found that Australian National University’s Open Research Library had uploaded The Book of Luelen by Luelen Bernart on their website for anyone to read. I was so happy! Hopefully they will add a lot more of books like this on their website as well.
Luelen Bernart died in the 1940s, but before that he was highly respected for his vast knowledge of local history and tradition. No other native has ever written such an in-dept account of the island’s history. The book is short, but filled with stories about the life of Ponapeans, from the creation of Ponape to the arrival of Europeans. This means the book has authentic oral tradition stories, and it is written from the point of view of the natives.
How much of the book is mythology and how much is of true historical value? That is luckily a question I do not have to answer. This book differs from most books I have read. It is not a novel, it is not a history book, nor is it a collection of poems. Many of the chapters start with “There was a man…”, and the man did something that had an impact on the island. The stories are very local, and you have to keep that in mind since you will have to look up things, although a huge amount of things are explained by the translators.
Because of the way the book is written I would recommend it to avid readers, readers who have read many genres and are not afraid of different reads. The book has a lot of charm, and once you get into the rhythm it is a fun read. There is definitely a chance to learn about the island, its people and culture, if you let yourself soak in the words and the stories. Without this challenge I would never have found this book, or even if I would have found this book, I would never have read it. This is why it is so exiting reading books from all the countries on our planet!