Here’s one book which is captivating, disturbing and yet enticing. I am a slow reader or rather a very slow reader. It takes me days to read a novel but I could not put down this book till I completed it.
This is the story of Norton Perina, a Nobel Prize winning scientist. The author writes flawlessly about his parents, brother and the kind of upbringing he had. It was always glum. The complete story of his life was glum but it is narrated in a way that the reader is immersed in the life of Norton Perina.
In 1950, he embarks on an expedition to a remote Micronesian Island, Ivu’ivu, as part of a team to search for a lost tribe. The author gives vivid accounts of the expedition into the tropical jungle. I have been fascinated with the descriptions of these jungles written by Gerald Durrell in his books but this novel had a different allure to it. She (the author) describes the journey initially as enchanting; giving details of the flora-fauna and the feelings of awe that erupt while in a land covered with different hues of green. And later about the boredom that sets in while traversing the same scenery day-after-day. Similarly, the author beautifully describes the emotions of the characters associated with every event and that’s what made it an interesting read.
Another remarkable thing about this novel were the ‘footnotes’. The story is presented in the form of Norton’s memoir which he writes from the the prison and is edited by his friend and fellow scientist, Dr. Kubodera; who adds these well researched footnotes, which make the script more realistic and engaging.
Though this book reeks of superiority of the fair race, colonialism, abuse , the justification of ruining a tribe and an island but the way the author presents it, they are befitting for the story.
The Daily Mail claims this novel to be ‘Impossible to resist…brilliantly told’, and I fully agree to the verdict!