Moses Maladina’s Novel – Tabu
How many of you have read Moses Maladina’s 2003 novel, Tabu?
The book itself is one of only a handful of books written by a Papua New Guinean which has been published overseas, in this case, New Zealand.
After buying the book and reading it myself, I searched the internet looking for comments other readers may have made about the book. No matter how hard I looked, I could not find a single book review or comment concerning Tabu anywhere online. So, the following is my book review concerning Maladina’s first novel.
Tabu’s plot is quite straightforward. It will not take the reader too long to make the connection and have a good punt at what the outcome of the story will be. But don’t let that dismay you as it did me, because the further you read into Tabu, the more you begin to realise that underneath the simple story-line there lies a series of complicated events that aptly reflect the changing environment Tabu is set in.
I quite liked the method Maladina chose to unravel his story by jumping in between two main settings: 1933 and 1997. It not only breathes life into the plot, but it also ensures that the reader is constantly reminded of how radically times have changed since 1933.
One thing that Maladina must be complimented on is the amount of historical detail he includes in Tabu. The book could have been written without these valuable little pockets of information, but without them Tabu would have been much the poorer. This also reflects the amount of research the author must have completed before joining together the threads of his story. I quite enjoyed reading a bit about Sir Hubert Murray and even if the novel is fiction, Maladina can’t be that far away from accurately describing Murray’s character.
In hindsight, there are two main points that really bugged me about Tabu. Firstly, Maladina managed to roughly include the Sandline Affair into the novel. I really do think that he could have made a smoother approach to the inclusion of this dramatic event as part of his storyline. His inclusion of the Sandline Affair seemed a little “rushed” and I thought it just didn’t seem to fit properly – but maybe that’s what Maladina intended.
Secondly, the reader is only given a brief glimpse into the reunification of the family (the English side and the PNG side). I would have appreciated it if Tabu had allowed a real reunification of the two families. Yes, I suppose answers were found and peace was made, but Tabu would have been a lot more powerful if reunification had occurred and a proper connection established; a new legacy would have been established between Sitiveni and Elizabeth’s descendants.
Ultimately, Tabu is a comfortable read and opens the mind to how challenging it must have been for our fore-fathers and their families to adopt and adapt to a changing world – a change they did not ask for but were forced to accept. What makes Tabu more intriguing is that the basis for the novel, the actual facts, occurred less than 100 years ago in the history of our country.
This is just one PNG story that has been told – there are millions more to be told and Maladina must be congratulated for putting pen to paper and sharing Tabu. I for one do appreciate it.
~ by Tavurvur on January 10, 2009.
Posted in PNG Literature
Tags: Book, Book Review, Fiction, Literature, Maladina, Moses Maladina, New Zealand, Novel, Papua, Papua New Guinea, PNG, PNG Author, PNG Book, Port Moresby, Published, Sandline Affair, Tabu