Vintage, $28 pb
It’s the summer of Pacific settings for NZ novels. Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip, the runaway bestseller seen in most hands across NZ all January, is set in Bougainville. Like this month’s review title, it makes lucid and informed comment on the negative local effect of the Pacific phosphate mines within the main story. In BLACK EARTH WHITE BONES, set in the small fictitious nation of Ventiak. Chris Else enlarges the lens and the international investment structure is also under the spotlight. A financial scam is underway on the island, and the mining company attempts to court the novel’s protagonist, Kit Wallace. The dynamics are brilliantly portrayed. Kit – a NZ poet with avoidance problems – is running out of money, and his situation parallels that of Ventiak itself. Without prematurely revealing the plot, there are futher themes of interest to SustainableFuture readers in BLACK EARTH WHITE BONES. One is the Rage, which has been building for some time. This is the periodic rampage across the island by savage ants, wiping out whatever lies in their path. Great treatment! And truly thought provoking. A beach book with brains, releasing February 2.