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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Upon earning his master's degree, Maarten Troost found himself among the highly educated sort routinely described by temp agencies as having "no skills." So, when his slightly more ambitious girlfriend, Sylvia, was offered a government job on the distant Pacific atoll of Tarawa, the "buoyantly optimistic" duo jumped at the opportunity to play modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Packed with mostly the wrong belongings, they stranded themselves among the I-Kiribatis, on what they hoped would be a romantic tropical-island paradise. It didn't take long for reality to set in.
Tarawa, "a notch above the equator and five thousand miles from anywhere," is actually a sandbar from hell, populated by clueless minions and possessing little infrastructure. While Troost dreams of writing an epic novel, he instead finds himself scurrying for potable water, watching in horror as his neighbors employ the reef as a toilet, and wearying of the bone-searing heat and myriad deprivations of life on this tiny, remote island.
A brilliant comic writer, Troost paints crowded, polluted Tarawa in such compassionate detail that it's not a complete surprise when, after a couple of years back in the States working in well-paid, more comfortable environs, he and Sylvia decide to again brave "paradise." Fans of the recent Discover pick Holy Cow: This is the next book for you. (Fall 2004 Selection)