Fans of The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages will hoot riotously over Harding's timely tale. Managua, an elder member of an aboriginal tribe on a remote Pacific island, is the sole literate member of his community. An incomplete copy of Hamlet in hand, Managua has dedicated himself to translating the play for the edification of his people, using the island's limited lexicon. "Is be or is be not," he interprets the famous soliloquy, "is be one big damn puzzler."
After their departure from the island, the relatively benign British left a smattering of culture, an introduction to pork, and an unfinished hotel; whereas subsequently, the American military left a history of rape, a trail of unexploded ordnance (like many of his fellow islanders, Managua has only one leg), and, ominously, a generalized craving for Coca-Cola.
Young American lawyer William Hardt is determined to win compensation for the injuries sustained by the islanders. But wise Managua knows that dollars mean trouble. Yet Hardt cannot counter the impact of his well-meant yet naïve actions -- except by adapting to the old ways of the islanders himself. Supremely entertaining, with a clever plot that entwines classic literature, current events, and common sense, One Big Damn Puzzler is a must-read. (Summer 2007 Selection)