I took a Pacific literature class one semester during University and we studied books about the Pacific Islands that were written by non-Pacific Islanders, with the exception of one which I discuss later. I guess at the time it could have been because there were not many well known Pacific Islander authors. But as a Pacific Islander, it would have been so beneficial for me to study works written by islanders so that there was a more authentic and personal link, that I, as an islander could make, to what I was reading.
I will also acknowledge that while there were well known Samoan authors at the time, their works may not have been approved for use in the classroom as I attended a strict Christian University, so this may not have been the case at all Universities.
I am writing a list of 5 books that I wish I read at University so that other Pacific Islanders are not faced with being told about Samoa by people who are not Samoan.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.Scarlet Lies: Book One in the Scarlet Series
Lani Wendt Young
Samoans are not known for their petite women. We are strong. We are beautiful. What I loved about the Scarlet series is that the women were a true representation of Samoan women I have met, Samoan women I have argued with, Samoan women who have guided my life choices and Samoan women who I aspired to be like. Scarlet lies helped me to see me as I am and accept that I will never be the white girls with long blonde hair in the magazines, but that is ok. I am fabulous just the way that I am. I also loved that Lani addressed the taboo of sex and abuse in this book.
Leaves of the Banyan Tree
This was the only book that we were assigned to read during our Pacific literature class that was written by a Pacific Islander. What I loved about this was that I was able to identify with the characters and to read about the village life and the importance of aiga faapitoa or the extended family. This was something that I was not familiar with growing up in Australia. Knowing or at least having a small understanding of what things are like in a Samoan village helps our youth growing up overseas have a greater sense of who they are.
Scar of the Bamboo Leaf
What I liked most about this book was that the main character had a limp. Why would this have made a difference to me? Because it showed how Samoans will treat people who are different. I loved that this book highlighted that people even with a disability who are looked down on can live a happy and successful life.
After living in Samoa for close to a decade I have come to know firsthand that sex is happening. It is happening at home, in the toilet of the club, in the backseat of the car, at the workplace even on the beaches. Samoans have been taught that sex is taboo and should not be spoken of. Sia Figel has broken this taboo in many of her books and talks freely about sex in her writing. I applaud her for bravely talking about a topic many won’t discuss.
Born To Fight
There are far too many angry Samoan men in the world. Men have the right to share and express their feelings without being made to feel uncomfortable or to be mocked for doing so. This autobiography depicts a man who has gone through some experiences we wouldn’t wish on anyone and still he has overcome these obstacles and moved forward to be a successful UFC fighter. We need more uplifting stories for our Samoan people! We need stories that don't hide the bad experiences but share them so we can all learn from them.