The Sex Lives of Cannibals– One of the best titles ever. If that doesn’t make you stop and investigate a little further, I don’t know what will. It’s not like I’m a sex fiend or anything, but it certainly made me wonder what the heck this book could be about.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals Overview
The Sex Lives of Cannibals is a memoir/travelogue by J. Maarten Troost. It’s a story of a man and his girlfriend leaving everything they know in the US to embark on an adventure in Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas). His girlfriend, Sylvia, accepted a position as country director for the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific- Kiribati Office. Within three weeks of accepting the position, they were on their way to the tiny Pacific atoll.
“It feels very much like paradise ought to feel , except, of course, it is too hot.”
The author shares their experiences, challenges, and triumphs. The imagined tropical paradise turns out to be more challenging than they had imagined, as they deal with cultural differences, frustrating government officials, equatorial heat and humidity, and the usual problems associated with living on a remote island.
My Review of The Sex Lives of Cannibals
I enjoyed The Sex Lives of Cannibals immensely! Just to let you know, this isn’t erotica or anything. The clever title is just that- a clever title. There is mention of the attitude around sex in Kiribati culture, but it’s in such a light-hearted, humorous tone that makes it far from offensive.
Troost tells the whole story with this same playful voice, making even the most awkward, disgusting, and traumatic experiences enjoyable to read. He shares what led he and Sylvia to make the insane move to such a tiny, remote island that they’d never heard of.
He shares a little bit of the history of the island nation, something I had no clue about. While the rest of the book is a collection of stories that will have you rolling with laughter.
Living on a remote tropical island in the Pacific Ocean while I read The Sex Lives of Cannibals helped make it even more hilarious and relatable, I’m sure. Some of the experiences he shared hit so close to home, that I felt comforted knowing that I’m not the only one who has to deal with these island problems.
Reading about the intense heat and humidity when the wind died down, was like reading an excerpt from my own diary. Reading him describe the feeling of the whole island being out of certain products (I’m talking COMPLETELY out) reminded me of last week and two months ago and five months ago…
I’ll let you discover the rest of the stories for yourself.
“Personally, I regard idling as a virtue, but civilized society holds otherwise.”
Without a doubt, I would recommend this book to anyone who is now or ever has lived on an island, especially one that is hot, humid, and far away from everything! If you’ve ever considered moving to an island like this, his experiences in Kiribati were rather extreme and occurred over a decade ago.
Because I’m a mom and love passing on good books to my kids, I read books mostly for myself, but also partially as a critic to judge if they’re kid appropriate. The Sex Lives of Cannibals was much more appropriate than the title suggests, but it did have some language and mature story content. Personally, I wouldn’t suggest it to my kids until they were well into their teen years.
About the Author
J. Maarten Troost was born in Groningen, Netherlands, where he spent much of his childhood. He received a BA degree at Boston University and lived with his girlfriend in Washington DC when they received the position offer to relocate to Kiribati. After two years of island life, they moved back to DC. But it didn’t last long. Over the following years, he has lived in Fiji, Vanuatu, and China. He even returned to Kiribati for a short stint.
More witty books by J. Maarten Troost
Check out The Sex Lives of Cannibals and tell me what you think. Also, let me know if you have any other favorite books about travel or living abroad that I need to read.
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