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A book about the challenges of our time

Samantha Kusari
Samantha Kusari - "Uphold our cultural identity and treat children with the respect they deserve"


When the River Destroys by Samantha Kusari, Pukpuk Publications, 2015, 104 pages. ISBN 1517034299. Kindle $US0.92, Paperback $US5.38. Order here from Amazon or contact Samantha by email here

PORT MORESBY - Caroline Evari interviews writer Samantha Kusari about her story of a young boy growing up in a village in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the years just before and after independence in 1975. The story is loosely based on the early life of Samantha’s father.

Caroline - Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, education, culture and hobbies?

Samantha - I am from the Fore speaking tribe in Okapa District, Eastern Highlands Province. I graduated with a Bachelor in Arts majoring language and literature from the University of Goroka. I’m currently teaching English, language and literature to Grade 10s and 11s at Paradise College.

Why did you choose the title of your book?

In writing When the River Destroys I chose the river as a literary symbol. It symbolises every major event and turning point in the story.

Tell us briefly about the process you took to publish it. How many drafts did it go through? How did you get editorial help? And who did you publish with.

I did two drafts myself. Then I sent it to Phil Fitzpatrick for editing and publication. And it was published with Pukpuk Publications.

What was your first reaction or feeling when you held the book?

It was one of the happiest moments in my life. Writing was and is my leisure hobby and I love writing but I never thought I could publish a book.

In summary, what is your book about?

It is a very simple book but addresses a very sensitive issue faced by many children not only in PNG but around the world – child abuse and ill-treatment of less fortunate children. In the book I also highlight some important aspects of my culture that are no longer practiced today like male initiation. There’s also a little bit about the first missionary contact in my area.

Who are your target audiences?

My target audience are primary and lower secondary school students in PNG. Age range 10 – 15 years.

Kusari - When the river destroysWhere did you get your inspiration and motivation from to write the book?

From my Dad.

What messages can readers take out of the book?

Basically, two messages. The first one is to appreciate and uphold our identity through various cultural practices. Secondly, it has a message for people to treat children with the respect they deserve.

Were there any challenges you had to overcome while writing the book?

Not really. I wasn’t a mum yet and I was still at university so I had free time to myself to complete my manuscript. I also decided to make the story plain and simple and it was based on a real-life experience so I didn’t have a hard time looking for characters (except for names), creating the setting or trying to make the plot fit perfectly.

How can your readers get a hold of your book?

They can contact me on email [see above] or buy directly from Amazon.

As a PNG female writer, what do you think is greatest challenge for writers in the country?

The greatest challenge lies in two questions: how many people are reading the books and who is reading it? Every book written has a message to convey. It is a waste when the book does not serve its purpose.

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations on how these challenges can be addressed?

Do awareness. Advocate for PNG-authored books. The recent petition we signed is a great start.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers?

Just write. Create your own library. It does not matter if the entire population in PNG does not read your work. Better written than unspoken.

Are you writing another book and when do you expect to publish?

I am just working on scripts. Just random scripts. I plan to put them together sometime soon and work a little bit more on it as it is a fictitious one.

Any final comments?

Just a suggestion, and I plan to run an article on this on PNG Attitude soonish. There should be a registered PNG Writers Society club or association where writers and aspiring writers register with a small fee to become members and every year we should hold a workshop or conference where like-minded people get to share ideas and present papers. I am not sure if there is already one. This has nothing to do with Crocodile Prize although we may collaborate.


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Baka Bina

Francis Nii has more titles and Pukpuk Publications, which previously appeared here, had more PNG titles which included Daniel Kumbon and other titles.

Others have done their own publishing like Jordan Dean with JDT Publishers. I have done my own publishing, first with CreateSpace but now Kindle Direct Publishing.

I have these fiction titles, all on Kindle:

Haffies Are Made, They Are Not Born
Curse of the Lamisi
Man of Calibre
Sweet Garaiina Apo
Antics of Alonaa Vol 1
Musings of Sogopex

I posted last week that I am about to publish another new novel soon. I have alluded to this novel, Operesin Kisim Bek Lombo, in earlier writings on PNG Attitude.

Nihon, there are of course the Crocodile Prize Anthologies, free books (see top of this page), and also the categories Writing and Writers and Women's Writings that appear on this page. It is a trove waiting to be dug up.

Let us all cheer this writers along including Carolyn Evari and Mrs Solien. These two women have some superb children's books.

Philip Fitzpatrick

If you liked Samantha's book Nihon you will probably enjoy the following fiction titles:

Moments in Bougainville by Leonard Fong Roka
An Uncertain Future by James Thomas
Sibona by Emmanuel Peni
Lost in His Land by Winterford Toreas
Paradise in Peril by Francis Nii
Man of Calibre by Baka Bina.

Nihon Vida

I read this book last year when I was living (as an expat) in Port Moresby.

I found it by searching on Amazon for books about PNG There are too few - especially novels.

It was fascinating and enlightening, and I absolutely loved it from beginning to end. PNG writers deserve more support. I hope this writer publishes more novels in the future.

Derek Brown

Samantha, congratulations on your book. I'll contact you to purchase a signed copy. Best wishes.

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