Posted by: koolwine | April 27, 2018

Federated States of Micronesia: The People in the Trees

A sociopathic scientist learns that the members of an isolated Micronesian tribe add centuries to their lives by eating the flesh of a sacred turtle. After his discovery is made public and the island is plundered, the scientist begins adopting dozens of the tribe’s children in a twisted attempt at love. The novel is loosely based on Dr. D. Carlton Gajdusek, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on infectious disease in New Guinea, but was imprisoned 30 years later for sexually abusing his 56 adopted children.

Country Focus: Federated States of Micronesia

The People in the Trees
By Hanya Yanagihara
Published by Anchor, 2013.
476 pgs.

Genre: Fiction

About the author:  Yanagihara is the editor of T, the style supplement of The New York Times. She followed her debut novel, The People in the Trees,  with A Little Life. Both novels were named “Best books of the year” by numerous critics.

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

Hanya Yanagihara


Shall I tell you how it was rumored that after Ivu’ivu had been picked clean of its wonders and exhausted of all its plants and fungi and flowers and animals and was left with only its beauty and mystery, the United States military—no, the French, no the Japanese—was using it to test nuclear warheads? Shall I tell you how the king’s son, Crown Prince Tui’uvo’uvo, now the king himself, was whispered to be a puppet of some foreign military and how he took to strutting about U’ivu in an epaulet-trimmed wool jacket that he wore atop a sarong, his face vivid with sweat? Shall I tell you how there are really no new stories in cases like these: how the men turned to alcohol, how the women neglected their handiwork, how they all grew fatter and coarser and lazier, how the missionaries plucked them from their houses as easily as one would pick an overripe apple from a branch? Shall I tell you of the venereal diseases that seemed to come from nowhere but, once introduced, never left? Shall I tell you how I witnessed these things myself, how I kept returning and returning, long after the grant money disappeared, long after people had lost interest, long after the island had gone from being an Eden to becoming what it is: just another Micronesian ruin, once so full of hope, now somehow distasteful and embarrassing, like a beautiful woman who has grown fleshy and sparse-haired and mustached?

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