In A Red Woman Was Crying, Mitchell achieves the nearly impossible: writing as an “outsider,” he immerses his reader in the interiors of Pacific Islanders without simplifying the people, condescending to them, or romanticizing them. These stories are told from the points of view of Nagovisi people young and old, male and female, gentle and fierce, and by narrating their lives in their own voices, Mitchell conjures characters complex and remarkably real. A highly original collection, quietly lyrical and wise.
- Ann Pancake, author of Strange As This Weather Has Been
This is an eloquently woven tapestry of ethnographic fiction. Don Mitchell displays what the power of creative imagination can do by blending Nagovisi myths with Elliot Lyman’s venture as an anthropologist into the cultural universe of the Nagovisi. In a candid and fictive prose Don demystifies ethnography as a quest to understand the exotic other into what it really is – a fictional narration of human subjectivities. Readers with a taste for textual flair and flavour in exotic human encounters should find the volume an entertaining read.
- Simon Kenema, Nagovisi Anthropologist
In this collection of short stories, anthropologist Elliot Lyman arrives in the Bougainville village of Pomalate. He sets out to study the Nagovisi, hoping to gain understanding of their culture. Yet as though Lyman had landed on Solaris, Kakata himself, the “White,” becomes the object of study and is confronted with his own limitations, dreams, ambitions, and failures. Don Mitchell masterfully creates the voices of the Nagovisi and in the course of their narratives, turns anthropology on its head. Readers will listen to their tales and recognize that the "other" we meticulously observe and seek to comprehend will in the end always elude us.
- Stefan Kiesbye, author of Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone
Each of Don Mitchell’s “Stories from Nagovisi” is told by a different backwoods villager about the white American anthropologist who has come to live among and study them – and who has tried, half-successfully, to become one of them. They, already colonized several times over, in turn study him. What results is a complex sketch (the reader is left to puzzle out) of the very ambiguities each of us experiences in his displacement, if only in time, from one culture into another. Among these, “I’m Going to Sovele” enthralls. Here the old, enfeebled, half deaf Lunta journeys, in his telling, to a hostile upland village to attend the funeral of a sometime enemy, where he fears being killed. Moment by moment, until he can make his escape, this unlikely Scheherazade beguiles his dangerous hosts with tales of the anthropologist, now not a study in the ironies of acculturation but a sheer comic creation. “I’m Going to Sovele” is a small comic masterpiece.
- Irving Feldman, author of Collected Poems, 1954-2004
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