Book Review: The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost

Around The World For a Good Book selection for: Republic of Kiribati

Author: J. Maarten Troost
Title: The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
Publication Info: Broadway (2004)
ISBN: 0767915305

Not the ideal book for Around the World for a Good Book since it’s written by an outsider, is non-fiction, and carries a Western bias.  Nevertheless it will suffice for now as I’m not likely to run across any I-Kiribati fiction anytime soon.

This travel narrative is based on the author’s two years spent on this poor island nation in the South Pacific.  It is stunningly similar to another book I read earlier this year, My ‘Dam Life:

  • The author is directionless and unable/unwilling to settle down in a career
  • His girlfriend gets a position on the island of Tarawa in Kiribati and he goes along
  • Much is made of the culture shock and unpleasantness of living abroad
  • He eventually warms up to the culture and accepts it on his own terms
  • His writing style tries too hard to be funny, although sometimes the circumstances merit a laugh

Overall, this is not a great book, but it is enjoyable and educational.  Troost definitely packs in a lot of history and facts about Kiribati and its people.

Recommended books: Outposts by Simon Winchester and Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz.

Rating: **1/2