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The Day Nothing Happened

By (author) Terence Clarke
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Mercury House, San Francisco, United States
Published: 1st Jan 1988
Dimensions: h 230mm
Weight: 300g
ISBN-10: 0916515362
ISBN-13: 9780916515362
Barcode No: 9780916515362

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Kirkus US
The China Sea island of Sarawak, a part of British Borneo before its annexation by Malaysia in 1963, provides the exotic setting for this collection of short stories about an American engineer named Dan Collins, who leaves a desk job in San Francisco to build roads in the jungle. The author uses his own experiences in Malaysia to create a portrait of the diverse people of Sarawak - native Iban tribes, headhunters who last practiced the custom on invading Japanese during WW II, Malay Muslims, shrewd Chinese, and Scotch-swilling British civil servants. "I'm not so sure you can avoid an entire culture," Collins tells one Borneo-weary Brit. However, as a representative of the US Agency for International Development, he learns quickly that he must tread cautiously in interacting with the natives. In one story, his futile attempts to drive hordes of chickens out of his one-room shack brings down the wrath of a local headman; in another, his innocent efforts to dig a well cause political havoc. But by the book's closing pieces, Collins has begun to master such cultural ambiguities. When he finds the dead body of a headman in the jungle, he carries it 20 miles on his back to the man's village, in order to save the Iban's soul. Collins never feels the dark attraction to native ways that would give these stories Conradian depth, but they make intriguing cultural explorations, nonetheless. (Kirkus Reviews)