Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maarten Troost

The Sex Lives of Cannibals- Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

The Sex Lives of Cannibals is a travelogue by J. Maarten Troost that describes his two-year experience living on the Tarawa atoll in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. The book is not a sociological study but rather a piece of comic travel writing that provides an entertaining and informative account of Troost’s experiences and impressions.

Troost, having just graduated from a graduate degree without a clear idea of what he wants to do with his life, travels to Tarawa with his girlfriend Sylvia, who has secured a two-year contract with the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific. Troost imagines a tranquil island paradise, the perfect environment for him to write a literary masterpiece, but his romantic notions about Tarawa are dispelled when he arrives on the atoll.

One of the main comic themes of the book is the ubiquity of the song “La Macarena” in Tarawa, which seems to be played everywhere by the indigenous people, day and night, driving Troost to distraction. Despite the title, the book is not about cannibals or their sex lives but rather a humorous account of Troost’s experiences adjusting to a culture that baffles and at times infuriates him, and a life of few creature comforts.

What I Liked

I love Troost’s travel writing. It’s made better by the fact that rather than traveling through a location, he actually lives in a place for several years. Great storytelling.

What I Did Not Like

Not a whole lot – good book.

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