Sunday, October 9, 2011

Island's End

I have always been fascinated by remote civilizations who seem unaffected by our modern world. Padma Venkatraman's Island's End is a work of fiction, yet is based on experiences the author had living on the Andaman Islands and interacting with the "primitive" people who reside there.

In this novel Uido, a young woman in a tribe living on the Andaman Islands is chosen to be her group's spiritual leader. She is trained to heal the sick as well as "see" into the future. Her tribe is what I would have expected - a group of people who work hard, hunting and fishing for food and living without the complications of the modern world. However, their island is visited by strangers bringing with them bandages and matches, which piques the tribe's curiosity of the outside world. And when Uido's younger brother becomes very sick, Uido travels with him to find help. Uido struggles with the need to keep her tribe intact and the temptations of the outside world.

This was a fascinating story, especially since Venkatraman has managed to meet a tribe who lives much like Uido and her tribe. I especially appreciated the author's notes at the end of the book, which give more background knowledge about these groups of people. Venkatraman's first book, Climbing the Stairs, was a marvelous read and this second novel is amazing as well.

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