From Wellington to Bougainville: Migrating Meanings and the Joys of Approximation in Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip

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First published in 2006, Lloyd Jones’ novel about village life on the Pacific island of Bougainville has been the subject of enthusiastic critical reception by the international media. However, it has rarely been discussed in the academic context of Papua New Guinean literature. This article will examine how the New Zealand-born novelist empathizes with his principle character, a young girl from the island, and what role this gesture of identification plays in the literary response to the Bougainville secession struggle. Highlighting the novel’s colonial and postcolonial context, I argue that Mister Pip is less a narrative about the specifics of life on the island and more a story about other stories and their potential to allow us into the lives of others, even when that invitation is politically complex and fraught with ideological implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalThe Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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