Understanding youth: a PNG novel with an engaging narrative

20 December 2016, Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude


An Uncertain Future by James Thomas, Pukpuk Publications, 2016, ISBN: 978-1541143739, 124 pages, available from Amazon Books US$6.03 plus postage.

A LONG time ago Sir Paulias Matane suggested that the best books for Papua New Guinea “should be small, simple and cheap”.

Sir Paulias stuck to that formula in the many books that he wrote after his first one, My Childhood in New Guinea, which had big type, simple language and was only 112 pages long.

I’m not sure whether Papua New Guineans would agree with that formula nowadays. Many read long and complex books and quite a few Papua New Guinean writers produce long and complex books.

Perhaps there is a dual dynamic at work now that allows for both types of books in Papua New Guinea.

An Uncertain Future fits very neatly into Sir Paulias’ formula. It is simply expressed and not too long and has an engaging narrative.

The story revolves around Wak, who travels from an uncertain future to success.

The turning point in Wak’s life comes when he is nearly sent to the prison. Faced with this personal crisis he decides to make a drastic change to his life.

Wak is smart enough to listen to his uncle Santana, who tells him that he can be a success if he finds where his true interests and talents lie. Santana knows that a very negative experience can be used to create something positive provided things are thought about in the right way.

What is striking about the novella is the message it contains about education. This is why it is a tale worth telling.

It seems young people are constantly bombarded with the message that a good education is the secret to a successful in life. This is largely true but it has limitations and exceptions.

With Wak we have a central character who did not do well at school but succeeds in life anyway.

It is a timely message that should have appeal to the growing numbers of disenchanted youth in Papua New Guinea because it offers them encouragement and a sign of hope that they can succeed against the odds.

The appeal of the book lies with young people and, perhaps, older people who need to understand their wayward sons and daughters.

Wak discovers that success comes from careful planning, hard work, perseverance and a determination to overcome the obstacles that arise from time to time. And a little luck – like having an uncle like Santana.

Go here for the original article https://www.pngattitude.com/2016/12/understanding-youth-charming-first-novel-with-an-engaging-narrative.html

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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