Changes in Latitude: An Uncommon Anthropology

Joana McIntyre Varawa, Author
Joana McIntyre Varawa, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $19.95 (274p) ISBN 978-0-87113-319-9
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
The witty title says it all. This account, by a California-born environmentalist and anthropologist, of her exposure to life in Fiji by marriage to a Fijian fisherman is by turns touching, astonishing, amusing and deeply human. McIntyre, who as the book opens is acting as harbormaster on a Hawaiian island, with conventional dreams of a much more primitive tropical paradise, is a sometimes naive, often feisty woman with a poetic soul. Male Varawa is a physically splendid but emotionally childlike man half her age, deeply rooted in Fiji's ancient ways. Their meeting and eventual marriage was hardly idyllic. Male is a heavy imbiber of Fiji's intriguing yaqona , a drink men and women alike seem to lap up by the gallon, and given to fits of moody anger. McIntyre is frequently testy, as most Westerners would be, at the carelessness and indolence of so much of Fijian life. But she writes with such empathy about this oddly archaic society and her relation to it and with such lyrical fervor of natural splendors and horrors alike, that the book is utterly disarming. It would make a remarkable movie. Photos not seen by PW . (June)
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