NOOSA – PNG Attitude reader Susan Conroy has asked where in Australia may be found books by Papua New Guinean authors.
Unfortunately I, and others, had to inform Susan that no books by contemporary PNG authors are likely to be seen in Australia’s bookshops, and for that matter very few by some of the earlier celebrated authors.
As the PNG’s authors know only too well, their books are not published in sufficient quantity for retail sale, even if Australian distributors were willing to accept them.
And because the books are mostly self-published and expensive to print, home-grown titles are rare even in PNG itself.
The best source is Amazon, which has many current PNG titles on its booklist. But Amazon no longer provides books to PNG because it lost so many in transit.
So the situation with PNG book publishing happened to be a big steaming shame.
Small numbers of home-grown books make their way to the country through the goodwill of friends in Australia relaying them from the USA to PNG in small quantities
Although of late Daniel Kumbon (Victory Song) and I (Man Bilong Buk) managed to engineer l;arger quantities through commercial freight companies – at considerable expense.
Yes, considerable. By the time these books got to PNG, they had ;probably cost about $100 a piece.
This is not the foundation upon which PNG publishing can be built.
I decided to try a little exercise and see how many PNG authors I could find who had written books during this second great flourishing of literature in PNG from 2011-2021.
Papua New Guineans can be proud of their countrymen and women who did the considerably hard work of writing books and arranging for them to be published.
They cannot feel proud that most of these books will never get to be read by Papua New Guineans.
Which is both a misfortune and a shame.
So here is my list of these distinguished people. And in naming them I apologise to any who I have missed.
Baka Bina, Michael Dom, Daniel Kumbon, Francis Nii, Dominica Are
Mathias Kin, Jordan Dean, Leonard Fong Roka, Wardley Barry Igivisa, Diddie Kinamun Jackson
Emmanuel Peni, Marlene Potoura, Philip Kai Morre, Winterford Toreas, Samantha Kusari
Jimmy Drekore, Caroline Evari, Iso Yawi, Jimmy Awagl, Bomai Witne
Pole John Kale, Raymond Sigimet, Rashmii Amoah Bell (ed), Sean Ova, Julie Mota
David Gonol, Arnold Mundua, Veronica Hatutasi, Bruce Jacob Blada
That’s 29 published authors, a number of whom have produced multiple titles.
Of course, if I were to add the names of the many people who have published essays, articles, short stories and poetry through websites as well as through the landmark Crocodile Prize Anthologies (2011-2016), there would be an even greater galaxy of names of names to share.
And, while I’m naming names, it would be remiss not to include Philip Fitzpatrick, whose prolific output of books, articles and polemic over the years has demonstrated both remarkable output, on-point political commentary and an empathetic understanding of the PNG idiom.
Compliments also to Baka Bina whose booklist of PNG books is a work in progress. You can find it here.