Tom Pow



Aug 2006

‘I don’t hate you. What are you? Fathers, mothers, two children on holiday. No, I don’t hate you. I hate what you stand for. Not tourism. I am proud of my country. I want to share it with others. Our people share their history and their pain and their struggle. We are used to sharing. No, I hate the dollars economy you bring, which makes our pesos, our once proud pesos ‘ now defaced with Quitano’s ugly face all over them ‘ almost worthless.’

Martin, his mother and father are holidaying on Santa Clara an island whose intrinsic beauty and resources have been exploited and where political insurgence is now rife following the development of nickel mining that ravages the country’s natural resources and its people.
In a desperate and dramatic attempt to highlight the plight of the islanders, El Taino, Rafael and Eduardo capture Martin and his family together with French tourist,s Louise and her family, intending to make a plea for a national enquiry to be made into the nickel mine that brings the scourge upon their country.
The story is complex and web-like, whilst it is told primarily from the dual viewpoints of Martin’s father’s diary entries and Martin’s own account of the shocking, unnecessary and surprising death of Louise, there is more than a passing empathy with the plight of the islanders who make this desperate bid to remove the blight that has been forced upon their land.
Judgement is never easily arrived at in this novel and it is difficult not to feel pulled in two quite distinct directions. Far from being a criticism, this is one of the great accomplishments of the book, that in failing to impose a resolute judgement as to where moral rectitude truly lies it coaxes the conscience to consider the standpoints of all.

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