Posted by: koolwine | February 18, 2018

Tuvalu: The Fragile Edge

In Part II of The Fragile Edge, Whitty travels to Funafuti, an atoll belonging to the remote South Pacific nation of Tuvalu, a group of nine small atolls known primarily for their precarious lack of elevation – a mere twelve feet. Her curiosity has taken her there: how do Tuvaluans feel about and plan for the likely total inundation of their islands?

Country Focus: Tuvalu (previously the New Hebrides)

The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific
By Julia Whitty
Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
292 pgs.

Genre: Travelogue

About the author:  Before becoming an award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer, Whitty was a documentary filmmaker with over 70 underwater and nature films under her belt.

World Lit Up Rating:
(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and 5 books = lit up)

Julia Whitty


There is little or no television here, only a few hours of radio a day, and most of these [Tuvaluans] have never been further than their home islands—although some have traveled to Fiji or New Zealand, and a few, working in the merchant marine, have been all over the world. But most don’t have much to compare their country to. When I mention a report issued by the U.S. State Department that describes an apparent human-rights paradise in Tuvalu, a world devoid of killings, disappearances, torture, and refugees, as well as a nation graced with universal literacy and no violent crime (the only jail is currently empty), the Funafutians smile and nod politely.

But whereas I had expected to meet a nation of people eager for me to broadcast their plight to the world, instead I am finding citizens wary of the topic of sea levels. To a person, they seem quietly disappointed that I am not a tourist. Perhaps they are afraid that too much talk of flooded islands will squash any hopes of tourism ever establishing here.

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